Why there is a need to invest more in nutrition

Lydia Atieno
Posted January 6, 2021 from Rwanda

Recently, a high-level workshop was held in Kigali with the aim of strengthening the capacity of parliamentarians to review and track national resources allocated to programmes fighting malnutrition.


According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) the percentage of stunted children under the age of five dropped from 38 per cent to 33 per cent in the last five years.


However, experts say in order to reduce this percentage to 19 from 33 percent by 2024, the budget allocated for nutrition should be increased.


“Five percent reduction is a great achievement for the country though there is still a long way to go. When you have a malnourished generation, you don’t expect positive results in terms of economic growth,” says Justine Mukobwa, Rwanda women parliamentary forum (FFRP) –secretary general.


 Mukobwa notes that there is a need in building capacities of members to understand the concept of malnutrition, the nutrition itself as well as being able to analyze the budget put in nutrition by the government.


The 2020/21 budget allocated for nutrition programs was Rwf8.49 billion for Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), with the target to ensure national security.


Rwanda biomedical center (RBC) was allocated Rwf2.049bn for the nutrition program, as Rwf9.95bn went to National Early Childhood Development program (NECDP)   for nutrition services support.


 MIGEPROF on the other hand was allocated Rwf10.04bn for nutrition and hygiene coordination, while MINISANTE received Rwf20.18bn for the project of stunting prevention and reduction.


Dr. Christine Mukantwali, Ph.D. President of Rwanda Nutrition Society, however, notes that there is still much to be done to bring stunting down in the country, especially through appropriate feeding of young children starting from when the mother is pregnant up to when a child is five years of age.


“Once the nutrition activities are being given a high priority with an increased fund to it under the Governments’ budget; it will have an impact on the lives of people and eradicate malnutrition,” she said.


Prof.Omar Munyaneza, the chairperson of national Budget and patrimony Committee says in order to ensure reduction of national stunting rate from 33 percent to 29.9 percent in 2021 as per NISR, members of the parliament as well have to be engaged in ending malnutrition by visiting the citizens to identify the problem they are facing.


Dr Anita Asiimwe as Director-General of National Child Development Agency says the government will continue to invest in both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive nutrition through various sectors that contribute to improved nutrition including Health, agriculture, water and sanitation, and Education.



Covid 19 and nutrition


Recently, the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) unveiled a position paper calling upon African Heads of State and Governments to ensure that financing for nutrition is included in their country’s COVID-19 response and recovery plans.

 The paper recommends that countries maintain and increase the level of funding allocated to nutrition to safeguard previous efforts to address malnutrition.


Dr. Sindi Kirimi, an agricultural economist says before even the pandemic, Africa in general was facing a lot of nutrition issues.

 According to the paper, 97 percent of African have a prevalence rate of stunting between 20 and 30 percent.

 Also, 55 percent of African countries have a high prevalence of anemia among women of reproductive age 20 and 39.9 percent.


 “COVID-19 has affected a lot of food supply chain and production. Study also shows that 80 percent of the informal jobs were affected,” he says.


Meanwhile, reports produced by Bill and Melinda Foundation for the year 2019 called Goalkeepers says that extreme poverty has increased by 7 percent in the last 5 months alone.


The report also indicates that this has pushed 37 million people below the extreme poverty rate of USD 1.9 percent.

For the low medium earners, the report indicates that it has pushed 69 million people below 3.2 USD.

 Whether we will hit the stated targets, Sindi says, the answer will depend on how fast African countries can contain the COVID-19. Otherwise, it’s hard to even go back to the level where we were before the pandemic. 

Comments 4

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Jan 06
Jan 06

Hello dear sister, thank you for sharing with us.

Jan 06
Jan 06

Dear Lydia,
Thank you so much for your highly detailed and eloquent post. Your statistics are impeccable. The numbers really do tell the story. It is an awesome effort that the government has acknowledged, put into work solutions of continuing programs to improve nutrition and stunted growth. The plans have to be from the natal thru adulthood as you expressed. The pandemic has caused unbelievable disruptions and challenges. Yes the pandemic will affect all the diligent work that was done, and will possibly reverse the course. But I really believe that the dedication of people does prevail. This post depicts impressive evidence that someone is paying attention and cares about the issues at hand. So many building blocks are in place and accountability being done. Bravo to you and everyone involved. Thank you so much for shedding light on something that many of us take for granted. And your story is amazing.

Jan 06
Jan 06

Hello sister Lydia how are you?
Thank you for sharing with us in addition to the issue of Nutrition should be discussed starting from the household level.
Let the household know 1000 days from conception until the child reaches the age of two at each level what should they do? also the issue of gender should be addressed in those households to eliminate gender inequality.

Nini Mappo
Jan 07
Jan 07

Dear Lydia,
It is encouraging to read your post, see the pictures by the numbers, and see an African country taking initiatives to fight malnutrition, because in Africa we talk a lot about food security, but very little on the nutritional value of it. I hope that from Rwanda, a revolution spreads across Africa to tackle food insecurity from a nutritional backdrop.
I thank you for this in-depth, well researched report. It gives one hope, but also an element of despair because of all the steps we've taken backwards. But at least, the figures show us where to start, what is at stake, and hopefully move governments to action.
Hoping that you are well and very best wishes for the new year!