Beneficiaries under the Gikuriro (grow well) nutrition and sanitation program, have managed to save over $1million in four years since the launch of the project, officials have revealed.
This saving was done under the Gikuriro project, a five-year program launched in 2015 with an intention of educating and training rural communities in nutrition best practices and early childhood development, as a response to alarming malnutrition cases which stand at 38% now.
The program has been implemented by the Catholic Relief Services along Caritas Rwanda, the Netherlands Development Organization and government among other implementers.
In order to address this issue, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded program worth cost $24million has approximately reached 25% of the Rwandan population in eight districts located in over 3000 villages.
Through creating behavior change community based health clubs, the program operates in Ngoma, Rwamagana, Kayonza, Nyarugenge, Kicukiro, Nyabihu, Nyanza and Ruhango districts where residents are trained and supported in four components of hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and access to clean water.
Some of the beneficiaries, like Agathe Mutesi, the head of Isuku Iwacu health club in Ruhango say that the savings idea came after undergoing training in best hygiene and sanitation practices which was highly needed to address the issue of worm disease attracted from using unclean water sources.
With USAID clean water sources provided, and formation of the club, Mutesi says they decided to form an outreach club of 105 persons especially mothers to educate them but also do savings of Rwf200 per week.
“From the savings we have been able to set up a canteen inside the water houses to sell goods and clothes we make. This adds on our income from the sold water, and we are able to lend to our members,” Mutesi said.
Besides saving activities, Mutesi said that the clean water provided by USAID has enabled them to reduce the cases of children and aged adults getting sick with waterborne diseases like diarrhea.
Ruhango district Health officer, Ruth Kemirembe confirmed diarrhea cases had reduced from 75% in 2018 to 35% in 2019 but also said that with access to water, the remaining struggle is have community change of mindset to zero the cases.
Alemayehu Gebremariam, the CRS Rwanda Chief of Party said that besides creating access to clean water, hygiene and nutrition, Gikuriro provides the groups with chances to acquire domestic animals, which give them a better advantage in addressing and accessing nutrition services.
When the Gikuriro program was launched, it targeted over 48,000 households to receive integrated services however according the CRS these numbers have been exceeded to 50,000 households in five year tenure.
With less than one year left to end the program, implementers of the Gikuriro program say that at least 70% of the budget has been used and there are plans to exceed this.
“We want to surpass these numbers and we had midterm evaluation showed that we were above the required average,” Gebremariam said.
In order to encourage more community participation and sustainability of the program, the US agency awarded Rwf2.7million to the best rural communities in promoting the Gikuriro (grow well) nutrition and sanitation program.
The cash awards and certificates were this Thursday handed to nine community health clubs which had outstanding activities in educating the community and improving hygiene practices.
The ceremony was presided over by Southern province Governor Emmanuel Gasana, USAID Head of Mission, Leslie Malboury and officials of the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) and Bishop Smargade Mbonyintege of Kabgayi diocese.
The American agency also officially inaugurated the donated 12 toilet facilities to Groupe Scolaire Nyarugenge, plus one clean water source, and a fully fledged Girl-Child Resting room, which can accommodate female students during the menstrual periods.
Leslie Marbury, USAID Mission Director said that her government was proud to fund the program and asked Rwandans to be able to sustain and use the facilities for the betterment of their lives and improved hygiene.