Ranked at 166 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index, Rwanda remains one of the poorest countries in the world, struggling with household food insecurity and extreme undernutrition.
This undernutrition causes 21.9 percent of deaths in children, with only 20 percent of children in Rwanda having access to food rich in iron. Iron is especially important for children under five for growth and cognitive development.
Stunting is when a child is short for their age and is a result of chronic malnutrition, negatively affecting their brain development and health. This results in children being four times more likely to die before the age of five. Stunting is caused by chronic malnutrition, and in Rwanda, 47 percent of rural children are stunted, along with 27 percent of urban children.
These numbers have caught the world’s attention, resulting in programs working to reduce the chronic malnutrition of children in Rwanda. These programs involve the government of Rwanda and the World Bank, The Power of Nutrition and the Global Financing Facility.
These programs have recently pledged to create an integrated program to combat chronic malnutrition, focusing on high-stunting areas and vulnerable populations through their funds and supportive methods.
Here are some of the ways each program is supporting Rwanda through its chronic malnutrition crisis.
The Government of Rwanda and the World Bank
These two groups signed a $23 million additional financing agreement on April 18, 2018. Working with the Nutrition Sensitive Direct Support, these funds will provide cash transfers to vulnerable families who are at risk of malnutrition.
The World Bank Vice President, Makhtar Diop, voiced his concern about this issue, saying, “We must act with a sense of urgency because our children’s future is at stake.”
The World Bank has also added to its current portfolio of $600 million, and pledged to invest $1 billion over the next five years in order to support Rwanda’s journey to prosperity. With this help, improvements have already been seen in Rwanda, with poverty rates decreasing from 59 percent to 45 percent over the last 10 years.
The decrease in poverty will allow citizens to spend more money on necessary food items to reduce malnutrition. These statistics show the success of programs working to reduce chronic malnutrition of children in Rwanda.
The Power of Nutrition
The Power of Nutrition has also pledged to invest $35 million for the cause of reducing chronic malnutrition of children in Rwanda. Power of Nutrition lives by its motto: “Multiply Money, Maximize Children’s Lives, That’s the Power of Nutrition”. Its belief is that stopping undernutrition is one of the best ways to improve a child’s life and increase their chance of survival.
In Rwanda, 22 percent of all children’s deaths are correlated with undernutrition.
Because of ongoing health problems, children are unable to continue their education, leading to lower adult wages which impact Rwanda to the tune of 11.5 percent of GDP per year. Improving child malnutrition therefore will not only benefit children and their families, but also the government of Rwanda.
The Global Financing Facility
The Global Financing Facility studies the influence of the allocation of resources to different countries in need, finding the shocking results of an estimated $33 billion annual financing gap between countries.
Therefore, it has dedicated its work towards closing the funding gap, and providing struggling countries, such as Rwanda, with a more attainable goal of abolishing chronic malnutrition.
There are many programs working to reduce chronic malnutrition of children in Rwanda, many more than the four mentioned above. However, although chronic malnutrition has decreased in Rwanda, it is important to realize that the country still needs a great deal of assistance.
– Adrienne Tauscheck