Monday, 4 November 2013

Nyamagabe, Rutsiro to benefit from Rfw2.2bn nutrition project


Delbaere (R) and mayor Mugisha sign an agreement on the project as Dr Katharina Jenny of the Swiss cooperation Agency looks on.

VULNERABLE FAMILIES in Nyamagabe and Rutsiro are set to benefit from a $3.319 million (Rwf2.2 billion) project that seeks to fight malnutrition in the two districts.

Families to benefit from the project are those under categories 1 and 2 of Ubudehe classicifation programme, according to officials.

The three-year project, which will run between 2013 in 2016, was launched last week.

It is spearheaded by four United Nations agencies, including the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The joint nutrition project, which is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development, seeks to address the issue of persistent malnutrition cases by focusing  on improving the nutritional status of children  aged less than two and pregnant and lactating mothers.

Rutsiro District, in the Western Province, and Nyamagabe in the south were selected to host the project because they are the most affected by malnutrition   and poverty in the country, according to officials.

About 44 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from the effect of chronic malnutrition in the country, according to the 2010 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey. In Rutsiro alone, statistics put mulnutrition at about 60 per cent.

The project activities will focus on improving children’s diet using micro-nutrient powders and through behaviour change campaigns, improving local production and consumption of nutritious and healthy foods, ensuring access to appropriate food supplements and enhancing knowledge on maternal, infant and children nutrition.

The project is seeking to promote a model that provides evidence that an effective combination of interventions can be delivered and brought to scale by government with support from national and international partners, Jan Delbaere, WFP deputy country director said during the launch of the project in Kibilizi sector, Nyamagabe.

Malnutrition is a handicap

“The international community wants to assist Rwanda to do something about malnutrition,” he later told The New Times in an interview.

“Chronic malnutrition is a handicap for the development of the future of [any] country because children who have not been very well nourished don’t have the cognitive capacities and the physical forces that well nourished children will have in their lives,” Delbaere added.

“[Fighting malnutrition] is an investment in the future,” Delbaere said.

Available figures indicate that 37 per cent of the Nyamagabe’s over 342,000 residents are categorised as poor or extremely poor, and thus would benefit directly from the project. Figures for Rutsiro District were not readily available by press time but officials said, in total, 131,000 households are set to benefit directly from the project.

Nyamagabe district mayor Philbert Mugisha said he expects the projects to help stimulate a positive change in attitudes and practices of beneficiaries.

“We believe this project will leave behind stronger families who will be well equipped with information, skills and knowledge on how they can themselves fight malnutrition,” Mugisha said.

“We also believe beneficiaries will keep improving their economic status and sustain the gains even after the project duration.”

Nyamagabe, Rutsiro to benefit from Rfw2.2bn nutrition project


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