Rwanda has stepped up its campaign to eliminate cases of malnutrition among children with a call on every Rwandan family to ensure the provision of a balanced diet for their families.
“Adequate food and nutrition are a universal right and are essential for the physical, mental and emotional development of children, as well as [a good] quality of life for adults,” remarked Rwanda’s Minister of Health. “The elimination of cases of malnutrition among our children and pregnant mothers is a priority for our government this year.”
To increase knowledge of how to create a well balanced diet, MCHIP in partnership with the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and Ministry of Health supported trainings on the establishment of akarima k’igikoni—or “kitchens gardens”—in the three districts of Gakenke (Northern Province), and Ruhango and Huye (Southern Province). Community health workers, village chiefs, and representatives from malnourished families in each village were selected and trained. This included learning about kitchen garden construction and how to grow vegetables such as cabbages, red onions, spinaches and carrots. RAB provided free seeds and technical support.
[Photo below: Community members being shown how a kitchen garden is made.]
In Gakenke district, Nemba sector, Burange cell, Rukoji village, 80% of the population are relatively poor farmers, and poverty and malnutrition are big problems. As a result of this program, community members have organized themselves into an association called Baho Neza, which translated means “stay well.”
Headed by Bugwanzira Clement, a 46-year-old community health worker, the association has a membership of 20 people that promote eating a balanced diet and raise money from the sale of extra produce. Now, people have not only saved money and eaten better food, but also learned how to provide for their families.
Members managed to open a bank account to collectively save proceeds in hopes of buying a large piece of land to extend the vegetable gardens. They also hope to share their acquired knowledge with the rest of the community, cooperate with different institutions (hospitals, schools), and establish a kitchen garden model.
Within two months, previously distributed vegetable seeds were planted in the constructed kitchen gardens and were well managed, and the knowledge acquired was shared with the rest of the village members.
The pictures below show the health of these gardens two months post construction and training:
Gone are the days when rural residents with malnutrition problems blamed it on poverty, saying that a balanced diet is for urban people who can afford expensive food.
Below is a picture of me talking about support to the Rwandan government on maternal and child health programs (nutrition interventions) in Ruhango district. This was during the launching ceremony of the national campaign to eliminate malnutrition in Ruhango District.
Below: The Mayor of Ruhango called upon participants at the ceremony to endorse the Government commitment to eliminate malnutrition in children under five years and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers by having a kitchen garden at their home, eating a balanced diet, and practicing good hygiene.