The distribution of chicken, mushrooms, fruits, green leafy vegetables and orange fleshed sweet potatoes to vulnerable smallholder farmers in the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP) intervention sites countrywide, has allowed households a greater access to nutritious foods.
In order to improve household nutrition and enhance food security, SAIP worked with the district and sector levels in all of its sites across the country, to identify vulnerable households categorized under social stratification program (Ubudehe1 and 2) that would receive nutrition rich foods from the Project.
SAIP distributed chicken to farmers with an intention to provide animal source of proteins through egg consumption for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under the age five at household level.
Each household with a pregnant woman, lactating mother or children under five years of age received four chicken layers from SAIP, in addition to mushrooms, fruits, vegetables, and orange fleshed sweet potatoes.
“We thank SAIP for supporting us to improve nutrition in our homes. We were given four chickens, and now, the chickens have started laying eggs. I am able to feed my children on eggs which has greatly improved their nutritional status,” said Devotha Nyirandegeya, a resident of Kabeza village, Kibisambo cell, Rwambura sector in Nyabihu district.
She added that with the proper nutrients, children can grow and reach their full potential.
Each household with a pregnant woman, lactating mother or children under five years of age in the Project sites received four chicken layers from SAIP, in addition to mushrooms, fruits, vegetables, and orange fleshed sweet potatoes.
Household families that struggled to add animal source of protein nutrients to their diet, are now able to regularly feed on eggs, because they were given chicken and trained on how to maintain them.
Nutrition intervention also combined kitchen gardens to provide both nutritious food and income, with nutrition education. The project supported farmers to construct kitchen gardens to increase the availability of nutritious foods for home consumption.
With kitchen gardens, mushrooms, fruits, orange fleshed sweet potatoes in place, household families are able to feed nutritious foods to their child which has significantly improved household nutrition.
“We were given mushroom spores by SAIP and trained on how grow mushrooms and maintain them. The Project also supported us to construct mushroom housing structures and we were also trained on how prepare delicious nutritious meals” said Epiphania Mukanabanganyimana, a resident of Rwabatwa village, Nyarurama cell, Cyabakamyi sector in Nyanza district.
She added: “Mushroom cultivation is cheap as it requires little space and simple structures. Mushrooms are also very nutritious to our children’s health.”
The project also emphasized the importance of using the growth chart to empower mothers/caregivers to maintain good nutritional status in their children and to prevent stunted growth among children.
Nutrition intervention has also led to introduction of village-based nutrition centres in SAIP sites, where weekly participatory cooking demonstrations of nutritious foods are held. The prepared food is fed to malnourished children under the age of five.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of household nutrition intervention in SAIP sites, the Project has involved community health workers who are volunteering in supporting the implementation of nutrition intervention at village levels.
Some of the members of households that have been supported by SAIP to improve household nutrition say that there has been a positive change in the households' knowledge of nutrition and dietary practices.
All these efforts by SAIP are part of the government of Rwanda’s broader efforts in the fight against chronic malnutrition and other forms of malnutrition.
SAIP targets to improve nutritional outcomes at the household level in the project areas by increasing access to healthy and diversified foods and by promoting good practices for improving nutrition.