Rwanda making progress in reduction of undernourishment – FAO report

Few countries in sub-Saharan Africa, notably Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Madagascar, reduced undernourishment while several others experienced a rise between 2009-2011 and 2014–2016, the Food and Agriculture Organisation regional overview of food security and nutrition report, 2017 shows.
A kid takes milk during an event last year. / Nadege Imbabazi
A kid takes milk during an event last year. / Nadege Imbabazi

Few countries in sub-Saharan Africa, notably Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Madagascar, reduced undernourishment while several others experienced a rise between 2009-2011 and 2014–2016, the Food and Agriculture Organisation regional overview of food security and nutrition report, 2017 shows.

The report was launched at a joint FAO/ World Health Organisation symposium for Africa on sustainable food systems for healthy diets and improved nutrition in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, last week.

It says that many countries in the region experienced reductions in food production, pushing up food prices due to the effects of El Niño/ La Niña-related phenomena.

But it shows that the Government of Rwanda has put in place different policies that are expected to ensure food security.

These include the campaign, “Our milk, our health and our future,” launched in 2016 to raise awareness of the importance of drinking milk.

“Rwanda has put in place different initiatives, including one cow per family to increase milk production, improve nutrition and reduce poverty. These efforts helped increase milk production in Rwanda from 50, 000 metric tonnes in 2,000 to over 710, 000 metric tonnes in 2016. Additionally, the “One Cup of Milk per Child” programme, initiated in 2010, currently reaches 85,000 children,” the report says.

In February, the Government committed to scale up irrigation initiatives to cope with climate change effects that have adversely affected agricultural production over the last few years.

The report says, since 2014, the Rwanda government has been supporting farmers with small-scale irrigation facilities, subsidised by up to 50 per cent of the total cost.

In July 2016, following an extended drought in Eastern Province, the Ministry of Agriculture took measures to supply food to drought-affected families through the National Strategic Grain Reserves.

“Through the arrangement, over 1,200 metric tonnes of maize and some 800 metric tonnes of beans were distributed to 18,308 needy households. Regarding livestock interventions, 28 dam sheets were installed in Nyagatare and Kayonza to facilitate the water supply in the affected ropeyards. This, along with other interventions, saved an estimated 22,000 cattle in the area,” the report says.

According to the report, a project in Bugusera District started to allocate land to farmers, who were selected through a raffle, where each beneficiary would get 0.25 hectares in sectors surrounding the marshland.

A large part of the scheme (515 hectares) is dedicated to rice growing and will be mainly occupied by ordinary farmers while the remaining (165 hectares) will be used to grow vegetables and fruits for export.

It commends government for maintaining healthy soils through terracing. The target in 2017/18 for land husbandry and soil conservation is to make 10,000 hectares for radical terraces and 20,000 hectares for progressive terraces.

Undernourishment

The report, released concurrently in Accra, Ghana, Abidjan and Rome, Italy, shows that the number of undernourished people in sub-Saharan Africa has increased mainly due to the impact of conflict and climate change.

The prevalence of chronic undernourishment appears to have risen from 20.8 to 22.7 per cent between 2015 and 2016, the report says.

“The number of undernourished people rose from 200 to 224 million, accounting for 25 per cent of the 815 million people undernourished in the world in 2016,” said Bukar Tijani, the FAO assistant directo-general and regional representative for Africa.

During the first decade of the millennium, sub-Saharan Africa made sound progress in the fight against hunger with the prevalence of undernourishment falling from 29.1 per cent to 20.6 per cent.

However, this was followed by a period of no progress with a worsening of conditions in 2015 and 2016 in many countries due to the impact of conflict and adverse climatic conditions such as repeated droughts – often linked to the El Niño phenomenon – resulting in poor harvests and the loss of livestock.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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