By now cases of stunting should have been history

Officials planting vegetables in a garden kitchen of a resident from Bigogwe Sector, Nyabihu District.

Stunting has become such a talking point that it was one of the major focus in this year’s World Bank Rwanda Economic Outlook report.

Stunting case is more acute in the Southern Province which recorded 41 percent prevalence. What is most surprising is that it is not simply a case of poverty that causes malnutrition, but ignorance and eating habits.

Many people stick to one particular diet and do not think of changing or balancing it. Some social protection programmes such as the One-Cow-per-Family were meant to address the issue of malnutrition but some parents would rather sell the milk than give some to their children. And not on the plates

The same for fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods, they will be sent to the market, issues that community health workers can help reduce. Some years ago there was an active campaign for households to adopt vegetable kitchen gardens, but that has now lost steam.

In fact, if kitchen gardens are not part of the performance contracts for local leaders, it should be included. Districts could also put aside some money to feed all children under five with fortified foods at least once a month because, honestly, it is an embarrassment that in this day and edge, a third of our children are stunted.

Some issues simply need mindset change to eradicate, but it starts at the grassroots with local leaders taking control. That is what true leadership means.