At first, the efforts that the government was putting in sensitizing the population to have kitchen gardens were puzzling until the figures started speaking for themselves.
Malnutrition was a very real problem and the only option was to encourage people to have gardens where they could plant vegetables to have access to the necessary nutrients.
In 2012, malnutrition among children five years and below stood at 42 per cent and drastic measures were needed. On top of encouraging parents to give their children a balanced diet, the One-Cup-of Milk-per-Child Programme was introduced in lower primary schools.
Today, it stands at 32 per cent but its reduction is not fast enough to meet the 19 per cent target in the next five years.
That the government has widened its strategy to increase the level of participation in the school feeding programme is an indication that it takes the issue very seriously. It has increased funding towards the feeding programme to Rw7 billion this financial year.
Stunting goes beyond malnutrition; it can make or break a child’s future. Hunger keeps millions of African children out of school and Rwanda is well aware of that. So, the prospect of having at least one square meal at school is an incentive enough to keep the children in school.
But schools should also play their part by having the children work on school kitchen gardens, it will not only give them a sense of responsibility – that only work puts food on the table – it will also teach them life skills that could come in handy someday