In an effort to combat food insecurity in the nation, Rwanda and the European Union (EU) on Tuesday, October 31, launched “Kungahara,” a new initiative comprising 14 initiatives valued at 11 million euros.
According to officials, the project was launched in response to rising consumer price indices, as approximately 20.6% of Rwandan households still experience food insecurity. The signing event in Kigali was presided over by the EU Ambassador to Rwanda, Belén Calvo Uyarra, who was accompanied by a number of government representatives.
Speaking shortly after the signing ceremony, Uyarra stated that the initiative will support inclusive agricultural value chains, sustainable food production, and focused interventions in communities that are particularly vulnerable.
“Today, our gathering serves two key objectives. The first is the official launch of the 14 projects, marking the beginning of our collective efforts to combat food insecurity and promote environmentally sustainable agricultural value chains. This launch means our commitment to enhancing the lives of Rwandans, ensuring access to nutritious food, and boosting local food production,” the ambassador stated.
She clarified that the motivation for this project came from a common desire to address the world food crisis and its catastrophic effects on millions of people.
The EU envoy emphasized that it is critical to acknowledge the urgent issues at hand, in particular the global food crisis, which is made worse by protracted food crises in addition to fresh shocks that continue to have an impact on millions of people.
“In 2023, our world is facing extraordinary challenges, and one of the most pressing is the global food crisis. Record levels of acute food insecurity persist in 48 countries, affecting the lives of 238 million people, and this crisis is exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine crisis which continues to impact food prices and global food value chains,” she added.
She disclosed that the project is expected to benefit over 20 districts and 211,000 households over the space of three to four years. “The initiative projects various beneficiaries including women-headed households, individuals with disabilities, children, pregnant and lactating women, and local committees committed to eliminating malnutrition.”
The situation of food security in Rwanda has significantly improved, and the EU has been one of Rwanda’s largest agricultural partners, especially through budget support projects and technical assistance, according to Olivier Kamana, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
“We want to see the project contributing to the reduction of levels of food and security in respective regions promoting environmentally sustainable culture value chains, and ensuring access to foods for all.
According to Kamana, food security continues to be a major concern for the growth and way of life of the Rwandan people, particularly farmers. For example, he stated that 1 percent of Rwandan homes experience severe food insecurity while at least 18% of households experience moderate food insecurity.
“The overall objective of this program is to contribute to sustainable transformation in Rwanda by fostering Rwanda’s agricultural transition to social and environmental inclusive food systems and ensuring Rwanda’s environmental and climate sustainability. “
According to Kamana’s statement to The New Times, the project is meant to supplement current efforts that are trying to boost agricultural growth through strengthening cooperation between regional and global non-governmental organizations and local government bodies.
“As you may be aware, the Russia and Ukraine crisis will have a significant negative effect on agricultural productivity and production, and this is consequently expected to affect the food and nutrition security globally. There is no doubt that this initiative is part of the solution to revamp this situation.”
According to Kamana, 1 percent of Rwandan homes are suffering from acute food hardship, while 18% of households are experiencing moderate food insecurity. Furthermore, he stated that while over 65 percent of households spend their income on food purchases, about 29 percent of households rely on the market for food expenditures.
According to him, there is minimal food insecurity in the eastern province and high food insecurity in the western region, with 35 percent of households living in food insecurity. Stunting rates among children under five have also remained high, with a national average of 32.4%.
“I would like to make a call for strong collaboration and stakeholder engagement. We encourage a strong collaboration of international and local NGOs and districts and the engagement of our farmers who are the first beneficiaries of the project.”
He continued, saying that regular talks with beneficiaries are still vital and important to determine what, how, when, and where they need support.