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Report Finds Malnutrition Rates In Rwanda Have Improved, But More Work Is Still Needed

KIGALI – A new study conducted by the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and the World Food Programme (WFP) indicates that rates of chronic malnutrition in Rwanda have fallen significantly in the last three years, but still remain stubbornly high, especially in rural areas.

The Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) report in Rwanda found that levels of stunting among children aged under 5 dropped to 36.7 percent in 2015, down from 43 percent at the time of the last analysis in 2012. Stunting, where a child is short for their age, is an indicator of chronic malnutrition and permanently affects brain development and health.

The 2015 CFSVA was released on Tuesday. The analysis is conducted every three years under the coordination of the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture, with support from WFP.

“It is clear Rwanda is making impressive progress in its fight against food insecurity and undernutrition, but we must keep working together in order to win that battle for good,” said Jean-Pierre de Margerie, WFP’s Country Director for Rwanda.  “At WFP, we are committed to continuing our work to help Rwanda keep improving its food and nutrition security.”

“The aim is to improve national capacities to develop, design and manage nationally-owned hunger solutions, which is why we are supporting the government’s effective strategies to make Rwanda a food-and-nutrition-secure country,” he added

The new CFSVA indicates a geographic nutritional divide, with rural areas being the most affected by child malnutrition at a rate of 40 percent, compared to 27 percent in urban areas.

According to the analysis, the districts with the largest share of food insecure households are predominantly in the Western Province, and include Rutsiro, Nyamagabe, Nyabihu, Nyaruguru, Rusizi, Karongi and Nyamasheke.

Poverty, illiteracy and insufficient land for farming are among the factors linked to food insecurity, and are the most likely root causes of stunting, especially among rural people.  According to the report, children of mothers with low education are more often stunted.

The report recommends enhancing efforts and initiatives to reach the most vulnerable people in the most affected rural areas, particularly by expanding social safety nets to include the poorest, most food-and-nutrition-insecure households.

The CFSVA report also recommends scaling up seasonal interventions to assist households experiencing food insecurity at certain times of year, for example in the “lean season” before a harvest is due. The report advises promoting alternative livelihood development programmes in order to provide more stable sources of income, and to develop and diversify livelihood opportunities for the most affected rural population. The Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis is a joint initiative between the Rwandan National Institute of Statistics (NISR), the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and World Food Programme (WFP).

WFP’s work in Rwanda focuses on helping communities and families build more food-secure futures.  WFP supports more than 200,000 people in Rwanda through social safety net programmes including home grown school meals for primary school children in the most food insecure districts in the south and western provinces.

WFP also supports community asset creation to improve household livelihoods, provides specialized nutrition support to address stunting in children, and focuses on national capacity development and modelling innovations in food assistance.

WFP buys maize and beans locally from small farmers’ cooperatives, and strengthens their capacity to ensure sustainability. WFP also provides food assistance to refugee camp residents through monthly allocations of cash and in-kind food.  
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address:
Jan Bosteels, WFP/Kigali, Tel. +250 (0) 78-115-1694
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 762 2179, Mob. +254 707 722 104