The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Agnes Kalibata, has called upon Rwandans to develop the sense of urgency in fighting malnutrition.
Dr. Kalibata called for quick measures after realizing that many children in Zaza sector of Ngoma district are still facing malnutrition while the area is very productive.
“We will visit different sectors to know the nutrition status, but what I have just seen here indicates that malnutrition is still a great challenge,” observed the Minister.
“It’s a shame to have malnourished children with all the health foods available to improve nutrition,” she added.
The minister visited Ngoma on December, 23rd, 2013 during the ongoing 1000-day anti-malnutrition campaign that was taken to Ngoma district.
“I’ve been visiting different places in the country, but what I see here is not what I’m used to seeing,” she noted. “This situation is completely inacceptable in Rwanda,” added Karibata.
The Agricultural minister noted that, many young mothers in their 20s, who are still strong enough to work and provide their babies with adequate diet, have children that show signs of malnutrition.
“The area is very productive, people are capable of working and they have good weather, but malnutrition remains,” noted Kalibata.
Gerard Muzungu, the Executive Secretary of Ngoma district said “there is no excuse for the residents of the area to have malnutrition cases because the area is very productive.”
“We can grow a range of crops from banana, beans, and fruits to vegetables,” said Muzungu, adding that Zaza residents were supposed to be in advance since the area was lucky to host first missionaries more than a century ago.
In addition to this, the area is surrounded by Mugesera and Sake lakes rich in fish production that would be another chance for the residents to have rich food.
Malnutrition cases among the babies might be related to polygamy that is still practiced in the area, local people informed Kalibata. Some head of families do not spend wisely their money by consuming beer rather than caring about their families, local sources have confirmed.
Aimabale Kibinda, the executive secretary of Zaza sector, told reporters that they registered 48 children facing severe malnutrition cases in the sector.
According to Kalibata, the situation in Zaza indicates that local authorities still have a lot to do to ensure that their citizens get decent lives.
Zaza case is one of the cases that pushed the government to initiate the 1000-day anti-malnutrition campaign to ensure that all Rwandans change their mindsets and use wisely what they have in homes to improve their diet.
During the campaign, Dr. Kalibata took lead in teaching how they should improve their nutrition status. She for instance joined local community in planting vegetables, fruit trees, giving milk to children.
Local people were also shown how to prepare complete diet and vulnerable families got cows from Girinka program.
Local people were also demonstrated how to cook mushroom and prepare complete diet. The minister urged the beneficiaries of Girinka and all residents to take the advantage and become catalyst of development in their neighborhood.
The 1000-day campaign was officially launched by the Prime Minister, Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, in Gakenke District in September 2013.
The drive was initiated following a recent survey by the Ministry of Education that revealed 45% of children under two years are facing malnutrition.
Ministry of Agriculture took over the campaign in December 2013 after the first two months were spearheaded by the Ministry of Health.
Other institutions involved in the campaign include Ministry of Family and Gender Promotion, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local Government, among other institutions. The 1000-day drive is expected to end in October 2016.