President Paul Kagame called malnutrition in the country a ‘self-inflicted’ challenge that needs leaders’ special attention.
He was speaking yesterday at the launch of the fourth edition of Rwanda Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey ‘EICV’ 2013/14 in Kigali.
The President stressed that failure to eliminate poor nutrition was a result of carelessness.
“I think, to some extent, this is out of our own carelessness, to some extent, self inflicted, and I have to tell our leaders here that we will have to pay attention to this; and make sure that we eradicate it because we have the tools to do that,” Kagame said.
The survey, commissioned by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), is compiled every three years.
It provides an update on the level of poverty focusing on poverty as measured in consumption terms.
The report also highlights other trend dimensions of living conditions captured in other surveys that complement and provide a holistic understanding of poverty and living conditions.
The findings showed that the prevalence of stunted children has gradually declined over time, to about 38 per cent in 2014/15, but malnutrition remains a significant challenge.
This, according to President Kagame, is preventable.
“I want to call upon you, and in some polite way, warning officials in charge to pull up their socks,” said Kagame.
“We see a lot of improvement in agriculture, you are aware of the cow per family, chickens running around in rural areas, you see vegetables, it’s about putting all that on a plate,” he added.
Officials vowed to embark on a similar overhauled study that will inform strategic means and approaches to have the issue resolved.
According to Finance minister Claver Gatete, fighting malnutrition will require credible measures that will supplement ongoing national projects that aim to fight poverty and eliminate malnutrition.
“There has been commendable implementation of one cow per poor family (scheme), we have also been supporting school feeding at the primary level but this is not enough for malnutrition. What we are going to do from here is to consult and see what kind of measures as government, institutions and local government can be used to eradicate malnutrition,” he said.
Similar research conducted earlier by the UNDP, however, indicated that although the government had strengthened programmes to eradicate the condition, more money was yet to be raised to implement poultry projects for families.
Under the programme, people are expected to keep two hens in their home for eggs that will supplement several other government programmes like one cow per family; one cup of milk per child per day ,both at school and home on top of (Agakonok’ Umwana), a traditional pot set aside for children’s food.
Commenting on this, Lamin Manneh, UN resident coordinator and the country director of United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP), said there will be need to teach the science of nutrition to make families aware of what constitutes nutritious meals.
Manneh said Rwanda’s ongoing projects on poverty will, under all circumstances, ultimately eliminate malnutrition.
He expressed optimism that a factory to produce nutritious foods, which is in the pipeline, will significantly enhance efforts to fight malnutrition across the country.
The last Cabinet meeting endorsed the Rwanda Nutritious Foods Factory, a joint venture between the government and a private company which will produce nutritious food for babies, pregnant or breastfeeding women.