KIGALI - The pilot phase of the One Pint of Milk per Child programme that kicked off in May, this year, has registered success in its second term with officials looking to expand countrywide.
The programme, that provides milk to children as a way of addressing severe malnutrition among school children, is currently benefiting 19, 998 children in the six districts of Bugesera, Kamonyi, Nyanza, Ngororero, Gakenke and Karongi.
The districts were selected as a pilot phase for the programme based on their high malnutrition index, according to the Health Ministry survey.
Dr. Théogene Rutagwenda, the head of the implementation committee of the programme, said the trial phase has shown that the programme is feasible and more funds should be sought to roll it out to other schools.
The pilot phase covers five schools in every district.
Rutagwenda is also the Director of Rwanda Animal Resource Development Authority (RARDA).
“It costs us a lot of money to transport milk in these few schools and yet the same costs could be incurred to transport more milk, if the programme is rolled out countrywide,” he said.
Rutagwenda added that the programme assessment has shown tremendous results. The Communications Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Gorrette Uwizeyimana, who was part of the team that participated in the assessment, pointed out that the programme has helped decrease absenteeism in schools.
“Children are attentive in class and absenteeism has reduced as most (kids) used to be distracted in class because of hunger,” she said.
Rutagwenda says that there are cases in Bugesera where children had dropped out of school but have now come back because of the programme.
“There are also cases of children who have left their schools to join those that have the programmr,” he said.
The programme has also affected the price of milk as the supplying diaries of Nyagatare and Nyanza have increased the prices paid to farmers by 41 percent from Rwf170 to Rwf240 per liter.
In addition, Nyanza doubled its milk processing capacity indicating positive trends if the programme rolls out.
Available statistics show that since the beginning of the programme, 337, 615 litres of milk have been consumed by the children.
The school feeding programme is collaboratively run between the ministries of Education, Health and Agriculture with the help from the local leaders.