EU funds Rwanda to eliminate malnutrition

m_EU funds Rwanda to eliminate malnutrition

Poor feeding is mostly related to ignorance not the economy

The Government of Rwanda and the European Union have signed a financing agreement worth €30 million (approximately Rwf28 billion) that will serve to support the country’s campaign aimed at eliminating malnutrition.

The money is part of the €460 million funding for Rwanda for the period of 2014-2020 as the union sets to fun developmental projects in the great lakes region.

The European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs noted the increased funding is due to Rwanda being a leader in most of its undertakings.

“Rwanda is a leader in overcoming hardships and malnutrition destroys human chances for development, it’s not only a moral problem but also an economic problem, therefore addressing it will improve the country’s gross domestic product per capita and steer the country towards economic sustainability,” Piebalgs said

“The increased funding is a boost to the country as it shows the confidence International stakeholders have in the government of Rwanda,” Minister Claver Gatete noted.

Previously the country received €379 million between 2008 and 2013, with a focus on rural development, regional interconnectivity and budget support from the union.

The funds will support Rwanda’s multi-sector strategy to eliminate malnutrition, emphasising in particular on chronic malnutrition in children under the age of 5 years and the period from pregnancy to the child’s age of two years, which is the 1000 day window of opportunity.

Nutrition interventions during the first 1000 days of a child’s life are likely to have a high impact in reducing death, disease and avoiding irreversible harm to health and cognitive development.

The current prevalence of malnutrition in children is 44 percent and a decrease by at least 6 percentage points is envisaged to be attained by 2015. The intervention will be implemented from 2013/2014 to 2015/2016, with a sector budget support

Support Component (€28 million) and complementary measures (€2 million) to leverage the contributions of the Ministries of Health and Agriculture to fight malnutrition. The action seeks to trigger improved multi-sector responses to chronic malnutrition at central- and community-level.

Under the 10th European Development Fund and the Food Facility, the European Union has since 2009 approved almost €100 million to support sustainable agriculture and food security in Rwanda. This amount will be doubled for the period from 2014-2020

The new €30 million programmes will also provide complementary measures indispensable to ensure the successful implementation of the Sector Reform Contract, strengthen the Government of Rwanda’s capacity to generate regular updates on nutrition security in Rwanda.

Rwanda hosted a 3-day National Food and Nutrition Summit, in Kigali, this February 2014, which has attracted over 350 stakeholders to focus on promoting the first 1000 days to prevent child stunting.

During the meet, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho said that the problem of malnutrition is not related to the economy but lack of basic knowledge and good nutritional practices among communities, an aspect that has hampered the health initiatives.

The rate of stunting in children below the age of years was reduced from 51% in 2005 to 44% in 2010.

This according to the new report has cost Rwanda a loss of an estimated Rwf 503.6 billion in 2012 as a result of child under-nutrition, though the demographic health survey shows that the rate of underweight children has reduced from 18% in 2005 to 11% in 2010.

The report states that the largest share of the productivity loss is due to under nutrition and the total loss in productivity for 2012 is estimated at Rwf436.1bn, equivalent to 10 per cent of Rwanda’s GDP.

 “It is a problem of knowledge and good health practices; stunting is not about money, it’s about knowledge- which needs to be addressed as key in the fight against poverty” Binagwaho said.

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Olive Ndaka is the Junior Editor for RwandaEye. An investor and young entrepreneur, she is a quick learner and has contributed many articles for RwandaEye in Kinyarwanda.

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