Rwanda’s civil society platform has requested the government to intensify efforts in fighting stunting, which has become a national concern.
Findings from the Integrated Household and Living Conditions Survey (EICV4-2015) in September 2015 indicated that 38% of Rwandan children below five years were stunted.
Moreover, In 2015 alone, Children below five years of age had malnutrition issues with 38 per cent of them facing stunting while 7.7% were overweight in 2015 countrywide, according to the Global Nutrition report, 2015.
Venutse Muhamyankaka, the head of ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN) Alliance – a national not for profit umbrella of Civil Society Organizations working in Rwanda to promote decent nutrition said that they play a big role to alleviate stunting, but government should be the lead player.
Currently, the Government sets aside Rwf3 billion annually in fighting stunting against Children.
“The budget that goes into fighting malnutrition needs to be increased at district level. The money that goes into teaching people on best nutritional practices is also insufficient,” Muhamyankaka told KT Press on Tuesday.
Muhamyankaka’s analysis on the need to increase the budget for fighting stunting was, on Saturday last week, backed by the First Lady, Jeannette Kagame while officiating celebrations to mark the Day of The African Child and the World Day against Child Labor.
“The celebration of Day of African Child and World Day against Child Labour should be combined and aligned with the promotion of children’s rights and the fight against challenges that could hinder their development, to grow into healthy, responsible and open mind children,” the First lady said on Saturday.
The First Lady challenged districts to include Children welfare in the annual budget planning – a move that could help bring down the levels of stunting as well.
During the national leadership retreat in February this year, President Kagame warned leaders of ‘complacency’ in dealing with the biting issue of stunting – mostly blaming them of ‘lack of cooperation’.
Meanwhile, the government has set a target to cut down stunting rate from the current 38% to 15% by 2024.
Dr. Alvera Mukabaramba – State Minister in Charge of Social Affairs, told KT Press that the available funds are spent in “feeding children with milk. We ensure that every stunted child gets 1 littre of milk every day,” she said.
Funds to fight malnutrition are dispatched across different actors-mainly ministries including; Ministry of Health, Education, Gender and Family Promotion to mention quite a few.
Several development partners are now coming on board to support government efforts.
For example, in March this year, the World Bank Group and the government signed a $55 million financing agreement to reduce stunting rates among children under age 5 in 13 districts with high prevalence.
In April this year, another project, Feed the Future Rwanda ‘Hinga Weze’ worth Rwf28 Billion was launched in Bugesera. It will be implemented over five years and will be funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Hinga Weze will help to reduce malnutrition and stunting burden while also improving households’ income among 700,000 farmers in 10 districts of the country.