Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente on Thursday launched a nationwide campaign against malnutrition, which aims at completely eradicating stunting among children and all vices linked to poor feeding.
The programme that was launched in Nyabihu District aims at scaling up coverage of high-impact health and nutrition interventions in 13 high burden stunting districts, improve coverage and quality of child care, feeding and hygiene practices in selected districts.
The campaign will also look at strengthening food availability and dietary diversity among other targets.
Nyabihu is one of the country’s top producers of Irish potatoes. Yet, it’s one of the districts with the highest rates of malnutrition in the country, a phenomenon that’s largely blamed on lack of knowledge on healthy feeding.
The 2015 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) showed that Nyabihu has the highest rate of preventable stunting in children under five.
Nyabihu recorded 59 per cent stunting rate, far above the national average of 38 per cent as opposed to 51% in 2005.
“Though the rates of stunting have been going down over the years, our conviction is that we are not doing enough to move faster. As the country our aim is to stamp out malnutrition with zero case of stunting among Rwandan children,” the Premier said.
The multi-sectorial stunting prevention and reduction programme that was launched is a result of collaborative efforts by the government and World Bank through the Early Childhood Development initiative.
The Premier called for stronger partnership between entities involved in the implementation of Early Childhood Development initiative and other programmes aiming at eradicating malnutrition in a move to make the national multi-sectorial stunting prevention and reduction programme successful.
“The Government of Rwanda calls on all Rwandans, women and men to participate in various programmes aiming at eradicating stunting as well as to improving the quality of diet which we feed with our children.” He advised.
Gender and Family Promotion minister, Esperance Nyirasafari said that Early Childhood Development initiative has already played an important role in the fight against malnutrition as well as stunting eradication.
She promised that her ministry incessant support to equip with Rwandans relevant knowledge on the fighting malnutrition.
Yasser El-Gammal, the World Bank Country Manager, speaking at the event stressed that the bank is standing with Rwanda to accelerate the level of reducing stunting in country.
“On behalf of all development partners I am just saying that we are standing ready to support and to demonstrate to the world that having a very sharp reduction in stunting is possible and I hope that may be a year from now we will be coming to this part of the country celebrating another result of this multi-sectorial programme.”
As a part of the launch of the programme in Nyabihu, various senior government officials and other partners planted vegetables in Jeanette Uwamahoro’s kitchen garden in a bid to demonstrate to the area residents how to fight malnutrition as well as eradicating stunting.
The multi-sectorial stunting prevention and reduction Programme is underpinned by a state of the art behavior change communication and specific and targeted capacity development aimed at ensuring effective implementation of the innovations.