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Rwandans making use of fortified foods to feed vulnerable people

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has announced plans to start feeding more than a million most vulnerable people with fortified foods across the country, in a bid to eradicate malnutrition especially among children.

The campaign to produce foods with essential nutrients to fight malnutrition has been backed by the establishment of food fortification processing firm Africa Improved Foods (AIF) Rwanda, based at Kigali Special Economic Zone, in Gasabo district, Kigali City.

Fortification deals with the addition of micronutrients to improve nutritional quality of food supply that will assist human beings in enjoying optimal metabolism and normal growth.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Prosper Ndayiragije, the country director of AIF Rwanda said that the country is focusing on improving nutrition for all citizens through partnership with fortified food processing company.

"Our company produces fortified blended foods for the government of Rwanda and the World Food Program (WFP) to help address malnutrition and stunting in children.

"We are looking forward to improving the nutritional status of Rwandan population by manufacturing international quality fortified complementary foods for vulnerable groups," he said.

AIF factory in Rwanda is expected to produce 45,000 tonnes of fortified food annually, enough to help boost exports and prevent child malnutrition across country.

Latest statistics from the Rwanda ministry of Agriculture indicates that malnutrition rate in children dropped from 52 per cent in 2005 to 38 per cent in 2016.

Although there are many causes of anemia, inadequate intake of iron folate and vitamin A and B12 usually account for most causes of the disease.

In 2013, Rwanda launched the ‘1000 Days’ national campaign to combat malnutrition with an aim of improving maternal and child health in the country.

According to Geraldine Mukeshimana, Rwanda minister of agriculture and animal resources, the country is keen to ensure that processed foods on the market are fortified with the right amount of micro-nutrients.

"Food fortification is considered to be one of the most cost-effective ways of addressing widespread deficiencies. Without the food and nutrients, malnutrition will remain a big burden to our country’s population," she said.

Last year Rwanda announced plans to end malnutrition before global target of 2025.

The small central African nation has put more efforts in fighting hunger and malnutrition by setting up various initiatives like the ‘One Cow Per Poor Family’ program, One Cup of Milk per Child per day, school feeding program and the establishment of the national grain strategic reserve.

Food security and nutrition are considered key issues in the country’s growth blueprint, the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II).


Rwanda vows proper use of wetlands to curb climate disasters

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has intensified efforts to ensure proper utilization of wetlands in a bid to help the country fight disastrous effects of climate change.

The country asserts that the role of wetlands in disaster risk reduction is gaining prominence as climate change continues to heighten the risks of many natural catastrophes.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday during the celebrations to mark the annual World Wetlands Day, Coletha Ruhamya, director general, Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) said that wetlands can reduce the impacts of natural hazards if protected and properly utilized.

"Wetlands in Rwanda face a lot of pressure specially from poor agriculture, peat extraction, illegal mining, pollution, dumping of wastes, construction activities and illegal infrastructure.

It is high time that Rwandans promote sustainable practices which support healthy wetlands for disaster risk reduction," she noted. "Safeguarding our wetlands would help us reduce the risks arising from disasters, particularly floods which continue to affect our lives in various ways thus putting lives at risk and reducing our food security."

Ruhamya called on Rwandan citizens to take action that help conserve and promote sustainable use of wetlands.

The day that falls on February 2 every year aims to raise awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet. World Wetlands Day has been celebrated internationally since 1997.

Each year, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general.

The day that was marked under the theme: "Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction".

The theme calls on governments and communities to consider the function of wetlands in reducing the impact of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and cyclones.

REMA says that wetlands act as a natural sponge, absorbing and storing excess rainfall and controlling flooding.

During the dry season, they release the water stored, delaying the onset of droughts and reducing water shortages.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 90 percent of all natural hazards are water-related. The frequency of natural hazards has more than doubled and the majority are climate and weather related.

Rwanda has experienced a growing number of disasters in recent decades, causing loss of lives, displacement of people and damaging of infrastructure, crops and environmental degradation.

The 2015 national risk atlas of Rwanda assessment report by the ministry in charge of disaster management indicated that a combined disaster (floods, landslides and droughts) could cost Rwanda a massive 132 million U.S. dollars loss, bigger than the budget allocated to the country’s agriculture sector.

Rwanda has 867 marshlands covering a total surface of 278,536 hectares equivalent to 10.6 percent of the country surface area.

The small central African country signed the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Ramsar Convention in December, 2003.


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