Integrated approach to reduce malnutrition in Rwanda

Posted on 18 December 2021

By 2024, FXB will work to eradicate malnutrition among children, lactating and pregnant mothers and in two schools in the Kamonyi district of Rwanda.

Rwanda is one of the few countries that has been able to achieve most of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Substantial progress has been made in various sectors. However, poverty remains widespread in Rwanda with 55% of the population living in extreme poverty. Children are disproportionately affected and suffer multiple and overlapping deprivations in basic needs, compounding its impact. Progress is needed in other key areas such as malnutrition, child mortality, maternal health and the eradication of extreme poverty.

Malnutrition is often defined in terms of low nutrient intake or lack of food alone. As a result, solutions to malnutrition often involve increasing food production alone. And these solutions are not sustainable because there are many underlying causes of malnutrition and stunting: lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene, recurrent infectious diseases directly caused by inadequate AHE practices, and lack of access to health services.

FXB is characterized by its holistic approach to development problems, addressing the root causes and not just the symptoms.

Poor sanitation and hygiene conditions as well as a lack of access to good quality water are underlying causes of undernutrition. Indeed, the WHO estimates that 50% of child undernutrition cases derive from recurrent diarrhea and intestinal infections resulting from inadequate sanitation and hygiene conditions or unsafe water. The reverse is also true: poor nutritional status reduces immunity and weakens the body’s natural barriers (skin, intestinal membrane), predisposing to infection (e.g. diarrhea) and reinforcing undernutrition by reducing intestinal absorption.

In order to achieve an effective and sustainable impact on malnutrition, it is necessary to address all of its direct and underlying causes by adopting a multi-sectoral approach. Ensuring access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation to enable people to absorb nutrients is critical. This is especially important during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life (from conception, during the mother’s pregnancy, and up to the age of two) when he or she is most vulnerable to the harmful effects of malnutrition, which can lead to stunted growth and irreversible damage. The breakdown of the link between nutrition and hygiene can already materialize during pregnancy, if the mother does not absorb the necessary nutrients, early births and an increased likelihood of stunting can result.

Project Interventions:

FXB will combine several activities to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as well as food security for vulnerable families. In addition, they will acquire essential knowledge while the community will benefit from the enhanced skills of community health agents trained under the project to ensure the sustainability of the project.

  • Training of community health agents in sustainable farming techniques, healthy eating principles, anthropometric measurements to identify malnutrition, and good WASH practices.
  • Training of beneficiaries in sustainable farming techniques, healthy eating principles, general health and disease prevention, and good WASH practices.
  • Beneficiaries are provided with agricultural inputs and equipment to start cultivating gardens or fields and have access to high value-added nutrients. They are also assisted in the construction of their sanitation facilities.
  • Construction of WASH facilities in two schools. The children are trained in chicken and rabbit breeding and are given an animal to start a farm. While the main idea is to strengthen the protein capacities of families, FXB also aims to instill a sense of responsibility and develop an entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Construction of a production unit for infant flour and enriched gruel

The program will have an impact on the lives of nearly 10,000 adults and children.

This project is made possible thanks to the generosity of Valais Solidaire, Réjane et Michel Lacoste, Juanma Foundation and the XXL Foundation.