Eighty per cent of Rwandan households are able to meet their essential food needs, a new survey has revealed.
The Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) 2015 report, was released on Tuesday.
The study was jointly carried out by the National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR), ministry of Agriculture and Animal resources (MINAGRI) and World Food Programme (WFP).
During the dissemination of the study results, Innocent Musabyimana the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture noted that while Malnutrition in Rwanda is above the African average, it was still below the national targets.
The study, that is carried out every three years showed a one percent increase in food secure households compared to 2012.
The reports pointed out that there are 63,696 households that are food insecure.
Districts in the Northern and Western Province have the highest number of food insecure households.
“Although the Western province holds 22 per cent of the country’s households, the province also accommodates 42 per cent of Rwanda’s households which are considered ‘severely food insecure’,” the report further reads.
Kigali is the most food secure province, according to the report.
Musabyimana said that, poor mindset, illiteracy, and insufficient/acidic land for farming are among the identified drivers of food insecurity, and are the most likely causes of stunting, especially among rural people.
The report shows that 70 per cent of households depend on food from the market.
The survey further notes that food is “generally available” in markets and well-developed infrastructure allows food to move across the country and between countries in the region.
Malnutrition ‘still a problem’
The report also indicates high levels of malnutrition among children under five years. The survey indicates that malnutrition now stands at 36.7 per cent. Though this is better than the 43 per cent in 2012, the numbers are still worrying.
According to the report, the nutritional status of children under five years has slightly improved, with lower wasted, stunted and underweight children.
The report shows that, “Rwanda’s development policies and programmes to combat malnutrition have yielded positive results.”
“The average annual rate of reduction in stunting in Rwanda is in fact above the African average, but still behind best practice countries such as Brazil.
“Special and concerted efforts by the government, development partners and stakeholders, are required to meet the national target to reduce malnutrition to 18 per cent 2018,” Musabyimana said.
Some experts say that the malnourishment would have increased further had the stakeholders adjusted minimum acceptable diet.
The New Times understands that, since 2010 there has been no change in minimum acceptable diet, and experts say, a change would reduce malnourishment and stunting amongst children.
Jean Pierre de Margerie, the country director of WFP, noted that, the 2015 CFSVA report, “offers an insight into the characteristics and causes of malnutrition in Rwanda, and will significantly help the government in setting up needed mechanisms to improve on food security and malnutrition cases.”
The survey indicates a geographic divide in malnutrition prevalence, with rural areas being the most affected, at 40 per cent, compared to 27 per cent malnutrition rates in urban areas.
The report recommends enhanced efforts and initiatives to reach the most vulnerable people living in rural areas, particularly by expanding social safety nets.
The report also calls for scaling up and implementation of interventions to assist households experiencing seasonal food insecurity.
Key strategies to combat malnutrition include, increasing access by school and pre-school children to nutritious food and flagship programmes such as the One Cow per Poor Family Programme ‘Girinka’ , the One Cup of Milk per Child Programme and the Home- grown School Feeding initiated by the agricultural sector—which WFP says have contributed significantly to the fight against hunger and malnutrition in Rwanda.
Around 230,000 cows have so far been distributed to poor and vulnerable families under the Girinka programme, thus helping them to get access milk for home consumption, manure for crop production and an additional source of income.
The One Cup of Milk per Child programme has helped improve consistency of class attendance for school children, contributed to improved child health, and reduced the number of school drop-outs. Up to 85,448 children benefited from the scheme in the 2014/15 fiscal year and received 1,545,814 litres of milk.