RWANDA – The government of Rwanda has received the second tranche of the 10 billion-yen (US$94m) Sector Policy Loan for Nutrition Improvement through Agricultural Transformation, from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to assist Rwanda’s effort to tackle malnutrition.

The second tranche aggregating to 30% of the total loan i.e. equivalent to US$ 28million has been disbursed as a result of achievements of the set policy actions by the Government of Rwanda in its continuous efforts to improve nutrition through agriculture transformation, reports Rwanda News Agency.

Since 2012, official statistics show Rwanda has recorded a decline in stunting among children aged between six months and five years, from 42 per cent to 35 per cent in 2018. Rwanda targets to reduce stunting below 19% by fiscal year 2023/2024.

In the loan agreement signed between JICA and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda last year August, it divided the issuance of the loan into three tranches of 40 %, 30% and 30% to be received over three years.

Being a highly concessional loan, it was extended on terms substantially more generous than market loans with an interest rate of 0.01 per cent, to be repaid in 40 years, and a 10-year grace period.

The Nutrition Improvement through Agricultural Transformation programme scheduled to run from 2019 to 2021, focuses mainly on two components; food security and multi-sectoral coordination.

The programme is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).

The bodies also work in conjunction with the National Early Childhood Development Programme (NECDP) and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) under the supervision of MINECOFIN.

The 1st tranche of payment equivalent to 40% (US$38Million) was 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 infection1.

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 are 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 under nutrition and fighting against stunting.

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