Food Security and Malnutrition
With an increasing urban population, rising rural and urban consumption, and food shortages in neighbouring countries, food security takes on increasing relevance.
Rwanda was able to achieve food selfsufficiency in 2010 through significant increases in the production of staple crops driven by the CIP and stronger regional market integration.
The supply of food, as measured by kilocalorie availability, has increased over the last ten years from 65% to 129% of needs. However household food consumption remains an important foundational issue: 44% of children under five years, and 47% of children under two years old suffer from chronic malnutrition (stunting) according to the Household Demographic Survey (DHS 2010).
Reducing Rwanda’s chronic malnutrition rates for children under two years old from 47% is a prerequisite for Rwanda’s continued economic and inclusive
Chronically malnourished (stunted) children perform less well in school and are economically less productive as adults. Research studies estimate that malnourished children risk losing 10% of their lifetime earning potential, while malnutrition can cause countries to lose up to 3% of GDP.
Poverty and education levels, especially of the mother, are important factors for chronic malnutrition, but stunting is a multi-faceted problem and for some districts the high levels of stunting can still not be fully explained. An underlying factor is the feeding practice where
78% of children between 12 - 23 months are fed on low-nutrient diets. The cycle of malnutrition often continues through generations, furthermore, the physical and mental damage associated with poor foetal growth and stunting are irreversible after the age of two.
Intervention to minimise the impact of malnutrition needs to start from conception and continue until the child is two years old. Hence the EDPRS 2 emphasis on the early
1,000 days of a child’s life.
Under EDPRS2, poor maternal, infant and child feeding practices will be addressed through coordinated, strengthened and scaled up community based nutrition programmes and information campaigns across the country. Early detection of stunting will be achieved through interventions like growth monitoring and nutrition education for mothers and caretakers. Chronically malnourished children will be referred to a programme for moderate malnutrition (within the community) or to health facilities for severe malnutrition.
In addition, supporting the implementation of existing district plans to eliminate malnutrition will be a priority. Communication campaigns to diversify household food production and consumption, e.g. kitchen gardens, will be undertaken. Agriculture and social protection interventions will be linked to reach the most vulnerable children, e.g. through school feeding programmes like One Cup of Milk per Child. Programmes on bio - fortified foods will also be developed and the food security information system will be strengthened.
Household food security relates very much to the stability of rural incomes in the face of seasonality and crop failure. The priority will be to strengthen existing initiatives that have increased productivity and have generated strong agricultural growth, both through agricultural and animal resource intensification and training of farmers. The second key strategic priority is value chain development (including nutrition - sensitive value chains, e.g. milk), strengthening markets for agricultural products, empowering small
-holder farming systems, attracting increased private sector investment and reducing post-harvest losses. In addition, interventions will be directed to the areas with lowest food consumption and highest rates of malnutrition particularly in the districts which have high levels of extreme poverty