Rights groups have raised concerns over slashing of budget to fight mulnutrition, saying recent gains could be reversed.
Food security and nutrition budget analysis in the past two fiscal years carried out by a local NGO the Rwanda Development Organization (RDO), show a slight decrease of budget committed to fighting stunting and malnutrition.
Analysis shows a Rwf31.7 billion cut from the budget allocated for the food and nutrition in the 2020 fiscal year compared with previous financial year.
The analysis points out that the budget cut effects will be felt across the country, with rural areas being the most affected by child malnutrition at a rate of 40 per cent, compared with 27 per cent in urban areas.
“Budget for the agriculture sector, especially for food and nutrition security should be re-examined. Budget allocation should target early child development that includes pregnant and lactating mothers and children under five years,” said Eugene Rwibasira, RDO executive secretary.
According to a report, Rwanda would not achieve its target of becoming a middle-income country by 2024, without investing in its human capital.
The recent official figures put the malnutrition at 35 per cent among the children below 5 years and 19 per cent among the teenagers aged between 15 and 19 years.
“This reasonable investment provides strategies to feed, secure, prevent and invest in food security, education, nutrition and agriculture,” the analysis noted.
The lobby suggests that the resource allocation should target early child development, pregnant and lactating mothers.
“In earmarking transfers for the agriculture and food security related budgets, attention should be paid to demographic factors such as population size, family size, population density, poverty levels,” said Mr Rwibasira.
Justin Gatsinzi, division manager of social protection at Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA) said that while stunting is not only determined by lack of food, other determinant factors across several sectors should be taken into consideration.
“Food could be available, but its use could be questionable. Do people have the knowledge on balanced diet, how about its preparation, awareness, skills to prepare a balanced diet, we have been working on those parameters” said Mr Gatsinzi.
“The preference could be selling food and buying other items, which they think that their family needs, which cannot help them to improve their nutrition and dietary requirements,” he added.
However, with little information on malnutrition, the analysis reveals a gap in educating people on malnutrition.
“Information and communication materials on food security and nutrition should be developed and disseminated to communities,” the analysis recommends.