The flour is provided to pregnant mothers and children whose families are classified in the first and second Ubudehe social class category in a bid to help them combat stunting.
The flour is distributed to beneficiaries by the Government of Rwanda on funding of the World Bank.
Shisha Kibondo is made available in two types packed in yellow and green plastic bags.
The flour in yellow plastic bags is donated to pregnant mothers from the first month until she gives birth. The mother continues the recommended dietary intake for the first six month of child growth.
After six months, the mother starts receiving the flour packed in green plastic bags made for children ranging from six to 23 months. Delivered monthly quantity increases overtime as the child grows.
IGIHE visited some of beneficiaries from Nyabihu district recently who witnessed how the flour helped them to give birth healthy children and improved mothers’ health as well.
Nzayituriki Béatrice from Gasizi village, Basumba cell of Bigogwe sector in Nyabihu district is a mother of two with third pregnancy.
She explained that there is a big difference between mothers with and without Shisha Kibondo.
“ A child drinking Shisha Kibondo grows with good health, balanced weight which increases gradually because he/ she gets enough nutrients. The child without the flour doesn’t grow properly and is often flexible to sickness,” she said.
Niyonsaba residing in Basumba cell explained that she started drinking Shisha Kibondo from the first month of pregnancy.
“The flour is highly rich in nutrients than others. I weighed 55 kilograms which have increased to 65. Moreover, its gives me assurance that my child will be healthy upon delivery because I have the flour and respect advises from community health workers,” she said.
Iradukunda Vestine, 24, had been reluctant to drink the flour’s porridge. Her mindests had not yet changed until she realized that her child was underweight while others drinking Shisha Kibondo were healthy.
“The child would weigh 9 kilograms that never increased. That is how I became adherent and saw changes few months after using Shisha Kibondo. My child currently weighs 12 kgs from 9 , thanks to community health workers for advises that convinced to use the flour,” she noted.
Bizimana Ange Patrice, a community health worker at Kora Health center revealed that every parent receiving Shisha Kibondo is taught how to utilize it.
“For instance a child aged 6 to 8 months has own porridge cup. From 9 to 11 months, the child also has specific cup. The same also applies to children from 12 to 23 months. A pregnant mother is recommended to use specific sizes of cups to consume adequate nutrients that also feed the fetus,” she said.
Every pregnant mother receives at least four packages of flour, the same for breast feeding mother. A mother with a child aged 4 to 8 months receives two packages of flour. Other mothers with children aged 9 to 11 months get four packages, while those with children from 12 to 23 months receive five packages.
The head of health unit in Nyabihu district, Dusenge Pierre explained that Shisha Kibondo came in handy noting that beneficiaries saw their health improved.
He highlighted that the use of fortified flour helped the district to reduce children stunting from 59% to 46, 2%.
“We increased mobilizations educating parents on feeding children with balanced diet. We partnered with community health workers to sensitize parents on using Shisha Kibondo. The number has extremely increased and target to continue reducing the aforementioned figures,” noted Dusenge.
Nyabihu counts over 6000 beneficiaries of Shisha Kibondo from the first and second Uudehe social class category.
Rwanda plans to cut stunting from the current 33% to 19% by 2024.