Outcome 1 – Governance & Systems

In Rwanda, in order to ensure that nutrient-density, food safety and food quality in general are preserved or enhanced, District Plans to Eliminate Malnutrition (DPEM) and Sector Programs for eliminating Malnutrition (SPM) have been developed at district level in 2018 and directed districts to ensure multisectoral coordination and converged agendas regarding malnutrition.

Considering the important role development stakeholders play in the decentralized implementation, not only of DPEM and SPM, but also of general District Development Plans, Joint Action Development Fora (JADF) at district level have been established in 2015 to coordinate collaboration and information sharing among development stakeholders. After discussion with JADF directorates and secretaries on how to support food systems and nutrition in the existing JADF structures, the formation of food systems sub-committees under the umbrella of JADF has been decided in Rubavu in February 2022.

food systems sub-committee meeting quarterly and aiming to strengthen coordination and planning among the nutrition and health service providers and their respective suppliers as well as any other stakeholders in the food system for ensuring nutritious diets produced using agroecological practices for the whole city population has therefore been launched in Rubavu on 21Apr2022. Respective Terms of Reference have been developed and the platform successfully convenes every three months. On 01/02Sep2023, Rubavu’s food systems platform even convened together with the food systems platform of Rusizi for a joint experience exchange and strategic discussions regarding institutionalization and legalization of the platform.

Food system platform members also mapped Rubavu’s food system in a joint stakeholders mapping exercise in June / July 2023 and sensitized the sector level on the need to holistically tackle malnutrition issues with a food systems lens through a food systems awareness raising campaign and respective leaflet in June 2023. Rubavu’s food systems platform has a joint activity plan and regularly asks the NICE project for support with different activities, such as e.g. support for individual Early Childhood Development centers (ECDs) in July 2022 or a campaign sensitizing the education sector for the food systems approach currently pending.

February 15, 2024

Outcome 2 – Increased agroecological production

On 26 November 2021, a group of experts was convened in Rubavu to select the key value chains for the NICE project in a participatory, multi-stakeholder approach with focus group discussions and validation of the decided results in a plenary session. Agreement was achieved on further supporting the following 5 value chains through the NICE project:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Cabbages

A Business Development Service (BDS) provider has been on-boarded in Rwanda in Oct2022 to implement Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture’s farmers’ hub concept that is new in Rwanda. In Rubavu, 24 farmers groups, cooperatives, and private enterprises have been identified for transformation into a farmers’ hub by the help of 3 recruited network managers. These 24 newly established farmers’ hubs (13 male headed, 11 female headed, 15 of them <35 years of age) currently serve 4772 farmers. Furthermore, together with YALTA, NICE currently facilitates agroecology trainings on (i) soil health, (ii) recycling, (iii) inputs reduction, (iv) production of composts, (v) use of liquid fertilizers and green manure, and (vi) black soldier flies farming and new technologies for animal feeding to local extensionists, farmers’ hubs owners, and selected NICE value chain actors (55 beneficiaries: 35 male, 20 female, 9 of them <35 years of age).

A farmers’ survey to understand the status and potential for agroecological practices in Rubavu using an adapted version of FAO’s Self-evaluation and Holistic Assessment of climate Resilience of farmers and Pastoralists tool (SHARP) with 150 farmers was conducted in March 2022 to inform the agroecology work.

February 15, 2024

Outcome 3 – Knowledge & Demand

To foster demand and knowledge for nutritious foods produced according to agroecological practices contributing to a balanced diet, 30 ECD caregivers and 30 Community Health Workers in Rubavu have been trained on identifying children at risk of malnutrition and on promotion of good child nutrition in November 2022 and June 2023. Furthermore, in September 2023 a sensitization workshop with teachers in charge of nutrition clubs and parents’ committees from selected schools was held to further foster bottom-up discussions on the promotion of nutrition initiatives in schools.

Awareness about agroecological practices and the need for diverse diets has also been rosen through a social behavior change communication campaign “Neeza” (engl. transl. All is well) reaching up to 4882 city dwellers through community activations in 6 health centers, 10 markets and 9 farmers’ centers.

Formative research has been been conducted in Rubavu late 2021 to best target the socials behavior change communication activities.

February 15, 2024

Outcome 4 – Policy, Learning & Scale-up

Knowledge sharing and learning activities in Rubavu are currently largely focused on exchanging experiences and forging synergies with the other NICE cities in Bangladesh, Kenya, and Rwanda. NICE focal persons at city level actively participated in 8 online peer-learning sessions in June and November 2022, January, April, July and December 2023, and January and February 2024 where valuable inputs were shared. Furthermore, the responsible project city coordinator participated together with a few district representatives in the NICE Winter School in Kenya 11-18Feb2023 and 2 city representatives will participate in a peer-learning week in Switzerland in March 2024.

Besides peer-learning, NICE also maintains good contact with Rwanda’s National Child Development Agency (NCDA) and FAO’s country office, and Rikolto’s Good Food for Cities project is actively involved in Rubavu’s food systems platform.

Furthermore, to share its experience and achievements among the two cities, but also at the national level, NICE Rwanda organized a national stakeholders engagement event in Kigali on 08Nov2024 to reflect on the first two years of NICE activities: Both mayors, from Rubavu and Rusizi, interacted with national stakeholders, addressing the achievements made and remaining challenges

February 15, 2024

Baseline Situation

At baseline, a team of experienced enumerators visited 150 households in Rubavu to collect information on the nutritional status, socio-economic information and consumption behavior of the city population. This survey revealed food insecurity in nearly all (98.7%) of the visited households in Rubavu, which increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 46.6% of the children under 5 years were too short for their age and therefore stunted, and 2.8% were underweight. Furthermore, 44.4% of women and 6.3% of men were overweight. Most of the women did not report an adequately diverse diet (73.3% consumed less than 5 food groups in the previous 24 hours). All this indicates the kind of obstacles faced by the urban population of Rubavu to access a diverse and nutritious diet, with likely negative effects on their longer-term health. On the other hand, many of the urban and peri-urban households owned farmland, overall 58%. This provides an opportunity for NICE activities to assist in an increase and diversification of locally and agroecologically produced nutritious foods and in making them more accessible for the city population, including vulnerable city population groups. Baseline data were collected in Jun2021.

The District of Rubavu partners with the NICE consortium for this project.