By Desire Muhire & Elias Hakizimana.
According to the latest study of Stunting in Rwanda, 38% of children below five years of age are stunted due to malnutrition, and this problem is at an alarming point, mainly after President Kagame’s criticism on why this issue continues to be a big concern.
According to various nutrition activists, who, in their daily duties have linkage with health, have revealed where the problem is, how it should be solved and some challenges to completely eradicate stunting among children below two years.
Rwandainspirer.com had an exclusive interview with Rwanda Development Organization (RDO), National Early Childhood Development Program (NECDP), and Imbaraga Rwanda Farmers Organization to have more information about the Issue.
Preliminary reports of 2018 on Stunting rates stands on 35 % according to NECPD
Who is to blame?
As the issue of stunting is almost immobile, some people wonder who is at the core position to blame among: Government, parents, Civil Society organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations or Local leaders.
All of these entities demonstrate that everyone has gone slowly to solely solve the issue and they are all at the forefront to work together and get sustainable solutions.
Unawareness on adequate nutrition and negative mindset
According to Joseph Gafaranga, the Secretary-General of Imbaraga Rwanda Farmers Organization, some people are big farmers and get most of production which does not contain abundant nutrient to avoid malnutrition.
“We have farmers who harvest tons and tons of Irish potatoes, they make enough profit, and unfortunately they consume those Irish potatoes without any other nutritious food such as legumes, those people are mistaken thinking that eating much food and filling the stomach is enough,” Gafaranga said.
Gafaranga went on saying that, there are others who are paralyzed with antique mindset, especially men who do not help their spouses to healthily nourish their children.
“Some men have negative mindset that kitchen works are for only women and they do not care about helping them, others say a real man cannot eat fruits such as banana, all such mindset lead us to malnutrition of our children”
Experts have indicated that the issue of stunting should be tackled from pregnancy to 1000 days of the child, because it is a stage where a child may be stunt or escape that plague.
Poverty and poor follow-up efforts
Even if Eugene Rwibasira, Executive Secretary of RDO agrees with Gafaranga on the issue of negative mindset and unawareness, he shows that some local leaders and other partners sometimes are reluctant to follow up on some strategies scaled up to combat the issue, and he never put apart the issue of poverty and little space to grow nutritious crops.
“Many issues may be combined, we all did not put appropriate efforts to follow up on strategies made by our government such as ‘Shisha kibondo’ program, or “Grow Healthy baby” which is normally for children below age of 5, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers to prevent stunting and we have been hearing that other members of family consume that flour.” He said
Macara Faustin who is in charge of child, pregnant woman and breast- feeding mother nutrition said the issue of ‘Shisha kibondo’ has been well regulated and those who stole the flour were arrested and others jailed to show the toughness of their culpabilities.
He furthermore advised that the issue of obesity should also not be ignored because it is among malnutrition kinds to rich people who misuse their wealth and end up attacked by diseases which hinder them to contribute to the country’s development.
“There is nutritious food such as beans and sweet potatoes which can help in stunting reduction but are fewer and expensive at the market, which is a great obstacle to unfortunate citizens.” He noted.
Lack of cooperation
According to these three interviewees, lack of team working spirit for this concern has been a threat and is still rampant, as the issue of stunting was put in the hands of Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) only; while it cannot be eradicated without gathered efforts of different partners.
Our interviewees mentioned that “Team working of various entities, commitment to tackle stunting issue, follow up and educating citizens on malnutrition and stunting is the way forward to entirely eliminate stunting among children above 5 years.”
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