We must end malnutrition, says premier

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Premier Murekezi chats with Shenggen Fan, the director-general of International Food Policy Research Institute, on the sidelines of Compact2015. (Doreen Umutesi)

Rwanda cannot lag behind in fighting malnutrition where other countries have succeeded, Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has said.

The premier was addressing the first roundtable of Compact2025, a global initiative aimed to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2025.

Murekezi said, to fight hunger and malnutrition, government will continue implementing existing programmes such as Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Malnutrition, and the Crop Intensification Programme.

“We need a real green revolution for this. It was done successfully in many other countries. These countries don’t have determination and commitment more than Rwandans. We can’t afford to lag behind when other counties are successful in fighting malnutrition,” he said.

Murekezi said the need to eradicate hunger and malnutrition is, firstly, hinged on food security, which he said is internationally recognised as a fundamental human right and a precondition for human dignity.

“We cannot claim to have dignified our citizens if they do not have daily nutritious meals for themselves and for their families,” he said.

The premier said every nation needs to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, which he said have an effect on productivity and wealth creation.

It is only through improving nutrition that people can meaningfully contribute to higher productivity, economic development and poverty reduction, said the premier.

He added that Rwanda attaches great value to its international commitments, including the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals that aim at ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030, and the Compact2015 targets.

Launched in November last year, Compact2025 is a bold initiative for ending hunger and malnutrition by 2025.

It brings stakeholders together to set priorities, innovate and learn, fine-tune actions, build on successes, and synthesise sharable lessons in order to accelerate progress.

The 2015 household survey, conducted by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, says 38 per cent of children in the country are stunted.

Hunger and under-nutrition impose enormous human and economic costs and they not only lead to misery, disease and death for millions, but they also reduce global gross domestic product by between $1.5 and $2.1 trillion a year, according to IFPRI.

Shenggen Fan, the director general of IFPRI, said he was convinced that eradication of hunger and malnutrition will be achieved by 2025.

He said there is need for countries to bring together stakeholders to share knowledge, experience and successful programmes they are working on to increase productivity, and identify the gaps so that stakeholders can work on them together.

“Among the key factors, one is knowledge; the other is weather and the third is research-based information.

These key elements help governments and stakeholders work together to achieve the targets to end hunger and malnutrition,” Shenggen.

Some of Rwanda’s programmes to eradicate malnutrition and hunger include the One Cow Per Poor Family started in 2006 – under which more than 250,000 cows have been distributed to poor families –, and the One Cup of Milk per Child programme where more than 100,000 school children are given milk twice a year.

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