The role of food and nutrition security in economic development


In Rwanda, the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) programme focuses on Sustainable Nutrition for All (SN4A) with an emphasis on food security and nutrition-sensitive value chains. The overall goal is to improve food security and nutrition for poor households in Rwanda through increased availability, accessibility, affordability and consumption of nutritious food at household level.

The role of food and nutrition security in economic development was the subject of the conversation at the V4CP programme launch on 15 February 2017. Mrs Frederique de Man, Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, remarked that stunting, a form of malnutrition in which a person’s height and weight considering their age are low, was costing Rwanda its growth. “The still high prevalence of stunting and the proportion of children not reaching their full potential is hampering human capital development in Rwanda.”

She congratulated the country however on the ambitious targets it has set for itself to combat malnutrition, noting the amount of work it would take to achieve. “I am happy to note that the Government of Rwanda has and is demonstrating strong and clear ownership, leadership and commitment to tackle malnutrition and stunting. (…) The National Food and Nutrition Strategic Plan has set the target to have stunting reduced to 24.5% by 2018.” Mrs De Man also lauded the recent launch by President Kagame of the Africa Improved Foods fortified products for infants over six months of age, considering it an example of the government’s commitment to a collaborative effort.

She reiterated the Dutch Government’s support to holistic nutrition interventions, adding that she was pleased that SNV Rwanda took part in the evidence-based advocacy V4CP programme aimed at strengthening CSOs' capacities, especially in reinforcing private sector involvement and investment. “Last year’s roundtables recommended mandatory fortification by small and large food processing companies. It seems that there is a need for advocacy and affordable products for consumption” she remarked, citing V4CP activities at national and provincial level.

Mr Fulgence Nsengiyumva, Rwanda’s Minister for Agriculture, pledged the support of the Government of Rwanda. “Food and nutrition security projects are most welcome in Rwanda, as they contribute to the government’s priorities as set in EDPRS II and PSTA II.” He echoed the ambassador’s statement, calling on the various stakeholders present to join efforts in eliminating malnutrition.

“In this case the role of each and every one of us is important. The private sector needs to engage more actively and increase their investment to be able to become the main driver of sustainable food and nutrition security, and of economic growth. Research institutes need to tailor their research towards innovative and demand-based approaches to effectively come up with solutions for tackling food and nutrition issues. Development organisations and donors also need a coordinated approach in engaging their interventions for effective allocation of resources towards food and nutrition security” the Minister urged.

Agriculture Minister and Dutch Ambassador tour the CSO stands

Teunis van Rheenen, Head of Partnerships & Business Development at IFPRI, reiterated the commitment of the research institute in helping the V4CP programme gather adequate evidence to backs its advocacy efforts and thus inform policy in Rwanda. Other parties at the event included the private sector, NGOs, CSOs, government partners such as the Ministry of Local Governance and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Rwanda Standards Board, the Rwanda Revenue Authority, and research and academic institutions.

The Voice for Change Partnership programme (2016-2020) is a multi-country and multi-sector evidence-based advocacy programme funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS). The programme is implemented under the leadership of SNV in conjunction with IFPRI, and together with five CSOs (ADECOR, IMBARAGA, RDO, CARITAS, DUHAMIC-ADRI) and SUN Alliance Rwanda.