Behavioural change essential in fighting malnutrition, says Gicumbi mayor

Despite the progress in fighting malnutrition, more needs to be done to achieve the desired target. This was pointed out by Juvénal Mudaheranwa, the Mayor of Gicumbi District during a workshop held in Musanze between Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Alliance Rwanda and the leaders of the Northern Province.
Children take milk during a past malnutrition campaign. (File)
Children take milk during a past malnutrition campaign. (File)

Despite the progress in fighting malnutrition, more needs to be done to achieve the desired target.

This was pointed out by Juvénal Mudaheranwa, the Mayor of Gicumbi District during a workshop held in Musanze between Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Alliance Rwanda and the leaders of the Northern Province.

 

The one-day workshop held on Tuesday aimed at self assessment of various districts in the fight against malnutrition.

 

Mudaheranwa noted that certain issues like people’s mindset were still a hindrance and hence the district would intensify efforts to reduce cases of malnutrition.

 

“We used strategies such as sensitisation drives to promote good nutrition in our area and the next step we want to focus on is behavioural change.

Our residents are not poor but have poor mindsets. For instance, they sell all the milk from their cows and keep nothing for the household,” he said.

He added that behavioural change would only be achieved through programmes such as Umugoroba w’ababyeyi.

Aime Bosenibamwe, the Governor of the Northern Province, said deliberating  on such fundamental issues would help in proper assessment and setting of new targets to fight against malnutrition.

He said there were a number of evident achievements in Musanze District, like the construction of many hotels, new tarmac roads, markets, among others.

“But despite all that, standards of living haven’t changed and on the look of things, the residents are not aware of how to deal with the problem, which was why more interventions in form of sensitisation are needed,” Bosenibamwe said.

He said out hindrances such as delay in procurement procedures led to setbacks in the implementation of certain programmes and that they needed close supervision.

“There should be a clear road map to ensure particular targets are achieved, and those who perform well  should be awarded as it creates motivation.  If these are put into consideration I believe that by next year there will be a huge progress,’’ he added.

John R. Butera the Chairman of SUN Alliance Rwanda, said the fact that malnutrition levels were above 30% was an indication that the situation was still bad.

Among children under the age of 5 years, stunting levels were 33.8% in Rulindo, 46% in Gakenke, 42.9% in Burera, 37.8% in Musanze and 36.6% in Gicumbi district according to the Demographic health survey 2015.

The issue of malnutrition is a factor that not only affects the family but the country at large, he pointed out.

“To strengthen the fight against malnutrition, we must ensure proper coordination of the civil societies and see that their duties are fulfilled as required. We also mobilize resources so that plans are implemented and advocate for prevailing issues that still need to be addressed.

Butera added that there was need to increase financial investments, increase human resource and capacity building and to strengthen multi-sectoral coordination.

“Strengthening of national and district accountability on nutrition targets will ensure better results plus identifying data gaps that hinder effective action,” he added.

 editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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