On August 16, 2019, the Governments of Japan and Rwanda agreed on Sector Policy Loan for Nutrition Improvement through Agricultural Transformation of USD 93 million to assist Rwanda’s effort to tackle stunting. In the Loan Agreement signed between Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN), the trigger -based disbursement of the loan has been subdivided into three tranches of 40 %, 30% and 30% to be received over three years. The first tranche equivalent to 40% (36 Million USD) was subsequently disbursed in December 2019.
Mr. MARUO Shin, Chief Representative of JICA Rwanda Office, appreciated the concerned ministries and agencies of the GoR in achieving the agreed policy actions related to the above disbursement in timely manner, despite challenges faced in the course of implementation, posed by COVID-19 global pandemic. This disbursement is timely because it would assist the GoR in mainstreaming “Nutrition” during the COVID-19 pandemic period when many urban and rural households are suffering from malnutrition.
Despite substantial growth in agricultural production over the past 10 years, food security and nutrition remain concerns, especially looking at the vulnerability to shocks at the household level. A large share of the population remains dependent on rain-fed and subsistence agriculture. Some staple food production remains below the targeted demand for domestic consumption and is substituted by importation.
Maintaining a healthy diet is vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to FAO, a healthy diet supports a strong immune system, while good nutrition is very important before, during and after an infection.
The Program targets 12 Districts with highest stunting rates; namely Rutsiro, Rubavu, Burera, Nyaruguru, Ngororero, Nyamagabe, Nyamasheke, Gakenke, Gisagara, Gicumbi, Musanze and Ngoma District. At a decentralized level, the program has started to fill food nutrient gap in each target district and suitable nutritious crop has been identified and being promoted for production.
Other components include making crop calendars for irrigation schemes, and nutrition public awareness campaigns. The program is expected to have a big impact in eradicating undernutrition and fighting against stunting.