FEATURED: WFP creates access to healthy diets

WFP provides support to over 70,000 farmers across the country through Farm to Market Alliance in which smallholder farmers receive capacity building support on good agricultural practices, post-harvest handling and storage, linked to agricultural market and trained on cooperative governance. Farmers also receive facilitation support to access to formal financial services. / WFP/John Paul Sesonga

This year’s World Food Day’s theme is “Our actions are our future. Healthy diets for a #ZeroHunger world”. WFP and its partners believe that affordable solutions to reduce all forms of malnutrition exist, but they require greater global commitment and action.

Here in Rwanda, WFP empowers and supports people throughout the entire food value chain, from farm to plate. WFP ensures vulnerable people, including refugees, are able to access quality food and contribute to children’s health.

WFP supports smallholder farmers to increase their production and produce high-quality maize and beans. Farmers are linked to buyers and agro-processors, as well as financial service providers. They are empowered to apply good agricultural practices, reduce post-harvest losses and ultimately increase their income. Some of the agro-processors, such as Africa Improved Food, in turn, produce fortified nutritious food which is used to reduce stunting (chronic malnutrition) in Rwanda. Part of the produce is also used to feed primary school students in the WFP-supported school feeding programme.

“Indeed, our actions are our future and if we don’t act now, the future generation will be impacted. In Rwanda, WFP links its actions with smallholder farmers to nutrition and the primary school feeding programme. The overall aim is to ensure people can eat a healthy and diversified diet and we can break the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition.” said Edith Heines, WFP Representative and Country Director.

Denise Uwera with her children in Kigeme camp. WFP provides food and nutritional assistance to refugees in form cash based transfers. This approach permits refugees to buy food of their choice and access to healthy diets. / WFP/John Paul Sesonga

Zero Hunger is not just about food production and quality food, it is also about not wasting any food. As highlighted by David Beasley, The World Food Programme’s Executive Director, people’s actions and joint efforts are needed to end food waste for #Zero hunger. “The amount of food wasted globally is enough to feed another 2 billion people, so in a world where every five seconds a child dies from preventable causes like hunger and malnutrition, this is totally unacceptable. We have a solution to hunger in our hands, just by being better stewards of the food we already have. If we all come together and work together, we can achieve Zero Hunger - but we must not rest until every child, everywhere, goes to bed with a full stomach.” said David Beasley.

WFP’s cash-based transfers to refugees in camps is another approach to provide access to healthy diets. This approach permits refugees to buy food of their choice. WFP disburses nearly US$ 1 million monthly to 138,000 refugees to allow them to buy food from the local markets in and around the camps, for a diversified and healthy diet. 

“I’m happy, WFP’s cash-based transfers permit me to buy food of my choice and feed my children with a healthy diet. My children are performing well in school and growing at their full potential”, said Denise Uwera, a Congolese refugee in Kigeme camp hosting over 10,000 refugees. 

Additional to specific nutrition activities to address malnutrition in young children, pregnant and nursing mothers in the refugee camps, WFP also supports a Nutrition Education and Counselling programme. This programme teaches refugee families, including adolescents, about appropriate feeding practices, making better food choices in the marketplace and increasing access to nutritious foods through the construction of kitchen gardens. A similar approach is used in primary schools through nutrition education and good hygiene practices, thus empowering students, teachers, parents and communities to adopt good practices for healthy diets and #Zero Hunger.