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Rwanda: Report Indicates Some Improvement in Food Security

The report revealed that the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under five is still high in Rwanda.

Photo copyright WFP/John Paul Sesonga

The report indicates that four percent have poor food consumption scores in Rwanda, which represents an extremely insufficient and unbalanced diet. However, these figures show clear improvement compared to the last two surveys carried out in 2006 and 2009.

KIGALI – A new survey conducted jointly by WFP and the government of Rwanda has found that the country has made steady progress in improving food security and nutrition over the last seven years, but that levels of food insecrity and malnutrition remain high.

WFP, in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, has published a report on the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis and Nutrition Survey carried out in 2012. The report indicates that one out of five Rwandan households have unacceptable food consumption and could be considered food-insecure. Out of the total population, four percent have poor food consumption scores, which represents an extremely insufficient and unbalanced diet. These figures show clear improvement compared to the last two surveys carried out in 2006 and 2009.

The report indicates that acute malnutrition among children aged between 6 months and 5 years is now as low as 3.6 percent, firmly within “acceptable” limit. Nationwide, 12 percent of children in that age group are underweight, a prevalence that is considered poor.

Chronic malnutrition – stunting – is also high at 43 percent, but this figure shows a significant improvement since the 2006 survey, when stunting was as high as 51 percent, one of the highest rates in the region at that time.  The report further indicates that the northern parts of the country have the highest rates of stunting, at more than 60% in rural areas, followed by areas bordering Lake Kivu and along the Congo Nile Crest in western Rwanda.

Household-level poverty and limited access to land are underlying causes of both food insecurity and malnutrition in the country. Sixty-one percent of farmers cultivate less than half a hectare, and half have even less than 0.2 hectare on wich to grow their crops. Households who do not depend solely on agriculture are better off.

“During 2012, WFP bought 23,000 metric tons of food in Rwanda, mostly for operations in neighboring countries. This is a clear sign that Rwanda is more than self-sufficient for its staple crops,” said Jan Delbaere, WFP’s deputy country director for Rwanda. “However, households with only a small area of land for cultivation simply cannot afford to access enough nutritious food to live healthy, active lives or to provide for their basic needs from their land alone.”

“They are more vulnerable to food price increases and have no financial buffer to protect them from the consequences of shocks such as drought, flooding, illness and crop disease,” Delbaere added

Delbaere said WFP is committed to continue supporting government initiatives to increase food production and ensuring a sustainable food security.

The Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) and Nutrition Survey 2012 is the third of its kind conducted in Rwanda, following those of 2006 and 2009. The purpose is to gain a better understanding of the nature and extent of food insecurity and malnutrition in the country. It seeks to analyze trends of food insecurity and malnutrition over time, measuring their extent and depth and identifying their underlying causes.

In addition, building on the recently released ‘Third Integrated Household Living Condition Survey’ (EICV 3) and ‘Rwanda Demographic Health Survey 2010’ (DHS 2010), this study is specifically geared towards producing evidence-based support for targeting of social protection and other assistance aimed at eliminating food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.

“WFP will continue to support the government’s efforts to combat chronic malnutrition in the next five years through our new Country Programme, which extends from 2013 until 2018,” said Delbaere.

With the help of the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis and Nutrition Survey carried out in 2012, WFP supported the Ministry of Agriculture in developing an evidence based action plan to fight malnutrition in the country, which is now incorporated in the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture (PSTA-III).