Outcome 1 – Food systems governance through multisectoral platforms

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 Rusizi in February 2022.

A 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 affordable, safe, local, diverse, nutritious, and agroecologically produced diets for the whole city population, has therefore been launched in in Rusizi on 20Apr2022. Respective Terms of Reference have been developed and the platform successfully convened four times already to work on a joint activity plan.

Also, based on suggestions by the food systems sub-committee and in line with DPEM, the NICE project supported 10 ECDs in Rusizi, supporting 650 children, with equipment (mats, cups, cooking equipment), water tanks, food for 3 months (fortified flour, milk, sugar) and caregiver incentives for 3 months in September 2022. Focusing on the youngest by supporting ECDs is a key priority of the local authorities in Rusizi, as the region, despite belonging to Rwanda’s food basket, has the highest proportions of childhood malnutrition.

February 20, 2023

Outcome 2 – Increased agroecological production

On 24 November 2021, a group of experts was convened in Rusizi 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 4 value chains through the NICE project:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Passion fruits
  • Tomatoes

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 Rusizi. 24 farmers groups, cooperatives, and private enterprises have so far been identified for transformation into a farmers’ hub by the help of 3 recruited network managers. Farmers recruitment for the 24 identified farmers’ hubs is currently at 65%.

Furthermore, in collaboration with the district, NICE conducted training on agroecological prevention of soil erosion and skills and knowledge in agroecological practices in general in two trainings and workshops in Nov2022. A farmers’ survey to understand the current status and potential for agroecological practices in Rusizi 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 20, 2023

Outcome 3 – Demand generation

To foster demand and knowledge for nutritious and locally, agroecologically produced food contributing to a balanced diet, 10 ECD caregivers and 10 Community Health Workers in Rusizi have been trained on identifying children at risk of malnutrition and on promotion of good child nutrition in Nov2022.

Furthermore, formative research on consumers and producers nutrition practices incl. purchasing and food preparation has been conducted in NICE project year 1 in Rusizi and findings from Rubavu and Rusizi have been discussed with stakeholders from both cities in a joint city validation workshop in July 2022. A demand generation strategy promoting and creating appeal for nutritious foods in Rwanda using the 4 key campaign messages i) hinga neza (farm well), ii) rya neza (eat well), iii) kura neza (grow well) and baho neza (live well) under the theme Neza (all is well) and turi ibyo turya (we are what we eat) has been developed in Q3 and Q4 2022 and the campaign finally successfully conducted in Rusizi over 6 weeks in Jan/Feb2023 including 4 market activations, 4 clinic activations, 4 farmers activations and touring of a mobile vehicle sound truck.

February 20, 2023

Outcome 4 – Learning and scale up

Knowledge sharing and learning activities in Rusizi 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 3 online peer-learning sessions in June and November 2022 and January 2023 where valuable inputs were shared. Furthermore, the district livestock officer engaged with the NICE project joined the NICE country team to participate in the NICE Winter School in Kenya 11-18Feb2023.

February 20, 2023

Baseline Situation

At baseline, a team of experienced enumerators visited 150 households in Rusizi 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 (99.3%) of the visited households in Rusizi, which increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 28.3% of the children under 5 years were too short for their age and therefore stunted, and 2.1% were underweight. Furthermore, 40.8% of women and 23.7% of men were overweight. Most of the women did not report an adequately diverse diet (60.7% consumed less than 5 food groups in the previous 24 hours). All this indicates the kind of obstacles faced by the urban population of Rusizi 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 59%. 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 May 2021.

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