The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) in Rwanda recently received US$3.6 million from the German Federal Foreign Ministry (GFFO) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). This funding will support ongoing projects targeting the food and nutrition needs of women and children in the refugee community. It will also go toward strengthening government social protection systems to increase food security and smallholder farmers’ incomes.
According to the National Institutes of Health, as much as 80 percent of refugees globally face food insecurity. Support for WFP’s work in Rwanda, which is home to over 127,000 refugees, helps to ensure food and nutrition security for these vulnerable populations, a top priority for WFP.
WFP is working toward their goals of food and nutrition security through their ongoing school feeding activities for refugee and host community children. Additionally, they provide food assistance to newly displaced people. Projects like these enable food and nutrition security for these at-risk populations.
“Chronic malnutrition and anemia continue to affect one third of children below five years of age in Rwanda. With funding from our partners, WFP works with the government to address root causes of this issue,” Lambert Hakizimana, from the Office of the Representative and Country Director for the World Food Programme, tells Food Tank.
“To deal with the enormous challenges and the high demands we have on our agriculture and food system, we need to leverage the expertise of all stakeholders and include all relevant actors,” Katharina Weber, Senior Policy Officer for WFP tells Food Tank. “This includes national governments, our international partners, academia, the private sector, civil society and of course primary producers and smallholder farmers.”
Funding has allowed WFP to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner to some 5,600 newly displaced people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who have arrived in Rwanda since November 2022, Hakizimana explains.
To further address nutrition security, WFP is scaling up their stunting-free villages model across the country. This approach uses a combination of tools to easily identify malnutrition and make quick decisions to improve a child’s nutrition status, Hakizimana explains. While these activities are an enormous help to food-insecure families, there is continuous need for year-round availability and affordability of nutritious foods.
WFP is also providing support to smallholder farmers, helping them achieve sustainable food production through the rehabilitation of the Bitenga marshlands. According to Hakizimana, farmers haven’t been able to work the land for more than 40 years due to non-functioning drainage and irrigation systems causing flooding. But the efforts in the marshlands, which include irrigation system rehabilitation, are providing locals with workable land, allowing communities to increase agricultural production in the area.
“WFP supports the government to build resilience against crises, for example through shock-responsive social protection at the national level to facilitate cash transfers to crisis-affected households and disaster preparedness,” Hakizimana tells Food Tank. These resilience building projects are pertinent in protecting soil erosion and agricultural production in the face of natural disasters and environmental instability.
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Photo courtesy of the World Food Programme / John Paul Sesonga