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Stories of Change: Rwanda: Understanding How Rwanda Created an Enabling Environment for Improvements in Nutrition and the Challenges

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Introduction

In the recent events, Rwanda has faced, from the civil war in 1990 between the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Eventually leading to the genocide that occurred in 1994 after their president was killed in a plane crash. Rwanda’s new government tries to pursue a new approach, ‘to improve the quality of life.’With the new change, the economic growth of Rwanda has been outstanding. We have seen unspeakable numbers from Rwanda’s GDP in 1995 they were at approximately 1.294 Billion USD then rose to roughly 8.376 Billion USD in 2016. The Poverty rate has dropped from 77.8% in 1995 to a sheering 39% in 2014.1,2 With all these improvements happening why does Rwanda still pose an issue not only with nutritional Factors as well as diseases. Problems like this are due to first off, the enormous population for a Sub-Sharan African country. Still having a title for one of the poorest countries in the world even today. Sitting at a roughly 141st spot out of 191 competing countries for economic GDP according to the International Monetary Fund for 2017. While the poverty rate of Rwanda today is lower than it has ever been, in the rural areas of Rwanda that is where the poverty rate is the highest roughly three times higher than the inner urban areas of Rwanda.

Nature and Magnitude of the Problem

Malnutrition has been a big risk factor for Rwanda. In Rwanda one in every ten children is malnourished.3 According to the Demographic and Health Surveys Program 37.9% of children under the age of Five are stunted and 2.2% of the same children are wasted.3 The reason for this is low agricultural productivity. For Rwanda, Agricultural Productivity is the foundation of their society as well as their GDP. Nearly 80 Percent of all the population works on farms or other food services.Due to erosion, climate hazards, and rough terrain, these jobs are unstable and unreliable.

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Affected Population

The population/group that is most affected by this in Rwanda is the children. Children between the ages of 0 to 5 are mostly susceptible mainly due to a rapidly changing body. Because, first of all they are too young to understand that nutrition needs to be a very important part of their lives cause without it they will be prone to diseases and illnesses such as what they are conceiving at this very moment. Also, being underweight and being stunted can affect these children harshly especially while being malnourished.

Risk Factors

When looking at the risk factors for children being underweight it can potentially be anything that can affect the child while in early stages of its life. Typically, between the ages 0 to 5 these factors can be the most dangerous to the child. Some of these factors are as simple as the gender of the child, a woman might be more prone than a male depending on the circumstances that the child is in. It can also be as complex as taking the gender factor for example and breaking it down in to other factors such as the age of the child in the situation could affect if the ender will play a role or not a 5 year old girl has a better chance of dodging a disease because, her immune system is starting to build up while a 12 month old boy will not be as protected because, his immune system is very weak compared to the 5 year old girl. The size of the boy or girl could also play a role whether they are going to be a healthy infant or not. Because, if the child is stunted then they will be more affected to disease if they are also malnourished. Some other risk Factors that could apply are what the mothers age was at the time of birth. This could play a role on the babies’ health when it was born. For instance, if the mother is old and not very healthy when she gives birth to her child keep in mind the average life expectancy for women in Rwanda is 69.3 years of age.5 It may contribute end up giving the baby some unhealthy traits like being stunted or underweight when born. On top of all of that because, in this example the mother is old and unhealthy she may end up dying relatively soon which would lead to either that baby going to an orphanage or a different family taking the child in. Although for another family to take in a child, like that would be quite difficult because, saying that not many people in Rwanda are living well enough to the point where they can just do that. Why well its cause even though the poverty line is decreasing which is good that doesn’t mean that it is completely gone so not every family will be able to possibly take in a child like that.

Health and Economic Development

In Correlation, with what I said in the last Paragraph about Life expectancy. The general wellbeing of the citizens of Rwanda is greatly improving. This is because, of the change in events due to the MDGs which has help to raise the GDP of Rwanda to unspeakable numbers for them. Their 8.376 Billion USD is what is making their health and life expectancy raise because they can afford to put more money into their health programs to treat their citizens.2 In the last section there was talk of the life expectancy not being good well it’s not compared to us. When we look at what theirs was in 1995 after the genocide it was roughly 22-24 years of age.5 That is a great improvement from then to now.

Action Steps

When people talk about taking action on an idea like this for example it takes them for every to carry it out although I can see why. There is a lot that needs to be done to aid these kinds of people but, why take say 15 to 20 years to overall do something really big that may or may not actually see its way the whole way through when you can just start off with smaller things that don’t take as long to show/teach so that they can learn off of it quicker to help spread news. Like what malnutrition is and some ways to combat it and then yes it cost money but, maybe supply them in group with food so that their families can eat better meals that will help their dietary needs out more than eating beans, corn, etc. everyday. By giving these people quicker teaching they will be able to grasp certain things and pass them on and then we can continuously aid them to a point where Rwanda is now. They are understanding how to better improve their economy and their health.

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