THE NEW TIMES
06. August 2013
by Eugene KWIBUKA
Former US President Bill Clinton with daughter Chelsea holding Rwandan Babies at a rural healthcare clinic in Rwinkwavu (2008).
Photo: William J. Clinton Foundation Photo Archives
The new drive, backed by the former US leader whose two-day visit to Rwanda is part of his ongoing tour of his foundation’s projects on the African continent, will see local companies supported to produce fortified food for under-five children and pregnant and lactating women. Food fortification is the practice of adding nutrients to food and drinks.
President Clinton, who visited with his daughter Chelsea, was joined by President Paul Kagame to announce the new program in Kigali.
At the launch, Presidents Clinton and Kagame said the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Government of Rwanda, and the World Food Program would work closely with the private sector, notably food producers, to combat malnutrition.
“You have the means to distribute nutritional food and to produce it,” Clinton said, pointing out that Rwanda’s 43,000 volunteer health workers are well-positioned to help distribute the children’s food across the country. “I have an enormous amount of confidence in this project because this is Rwanda and I have never seen you fail,” President Clinton said.
President Kagame said his government was “fully committed” to the nutritious food project, pledging to do everything possible to make the campaign a success. The fortified food processing program, which Clinton said will be rolled out in both Rwanda and Ethiopia, will be distributed to vulnerable infants, and pregnant and lactating women to reduce incidences of infant mortality and stunting.
Health officials say that the rate of stunting among children under the age of five in the country remains a big challenge. Statistics indicate that stunting in the country stood at 51 per cent in 2005 and 44 per cent in 2010. The Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, has previously said that these figures remained “far too high”.
“Malnutrition is unacceptable in Rwanda and indeed anywhere else in the world,” Kagame said, citing other countries’ programs designed to help roll back malnutrition, including the One-Cow-per-Family scheme under which cows are donated to poor families. “The factory that will be producing the fortified nutritious food will benefit many more people in our region and will lead to the elimination of hunger and malnutrition and improved livelihoods,” he added.
The World Food Programe (WFP) pledged to buy the fortified food for its beneficiaries should Rwanda successfully produce it.
Funding local suppliers:
WFP’s regional director, Valérie Guarnieri, told journalists that the UN agency spends nearly US$150 million every year to import babies’ fortified food from Europe, funds she promised could potentially go to local suppliers should they produce the food.
Clinton and his daughter also visited a demonstration of Procter and Gamble Clinton Global Initiative water cleaning project which will deliver water cleaning technology to households in rural areas in Bugesera and Gatsibo districts, Eastern Province. They also visited a Clinton Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI) coffee roasting factory construction site in Gikondo in Kigali and the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK) where American health practitioners are training local counterparts under the auspices of the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
The Clintons’ African tour is covering five countries where Clinton Foundation runs several projects.