PM Habumuremyi offers milk to a child, kick starting the national campaign against malnutrition. The New Times JP Bucyensenge

NYARUGURU – Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi has challenged leaders and the entire population to get rid of malnutrition within six months.

The PM was speaking over the weekend during the launch of a national campaign against malnutrition. He was on a two-day official visit to Nyaruguru District.

On Saturday, he joined residents of Cyahinda Sector in the monthly community work (Umuganda) during which participants grew vegetables and planted trees terraces.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister toured various developmental projects in the District.

Habumuremyi noted that apart from various ongoing initiatives designed to fight poverty, the government will step up efforts to promote the wellbeing of the population.

He cited the one-cow per family initiative, commonly known as Girinka, the construction of vegetables gardens (Uturima tw’igikoni), one cup of milk per child, and terracing to improve agricultural production, among the various programmes that seek to improve the welfare of the ordinary people.

The Premier said that the Government had given Nyaruguru District a grant of Rwf66 billion as a special package to help fight against poverty and malnutrition.

The money will be invested in various programmes over a period of three years. The special grant had been pledged by President Paul Kagame during his visit in 2010.

“We hope that, in three years, poverty and malnutrition will be a thing of the past”, Habumuremyi told residents.

He noted the funds will be invested in agriculture, animal husbandry, infrastructural projects such as water, roads and electricity; industries, decent housing and development of Kibeho holy city.

“Residents will play a big role in every single project. We will make sure the money is well utilised to the benefit of the population”.

The PM later unveiled plans to introduce the Vision 2020 Umurenge programme (VUP) in all sectors of Nyaruguru District. VUP is an integrated local development programme aimed to accelerate poverty eradication, rural growth and social protection.

Statistics in Nyaruguru District indicate that about 250 families are undernourished while a total of 16,000 families live in the same situation countrywide.

Habumuremyi challenged residents to always endeavour to help their neighbours improve their wellbeing.

“Our culture encourages us to help each other. Let us assist people who still live in deplorable conditions,” Habumuremyi appealed.

As part of efforts to help vulnerable families improve in their livelihoods, 44 residents in Cyahinda and Nyagisozi sectors received cows.

Speaking to The New Times, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, noted that malnutrition was still a major hindrance in the country’s development.

“The country is progressing in various domains but malnutrition is still a serious challenge…We are telling people that they can start with what they have to improve their diet,” Ndagijimana explained.

“We are involving everyone from grassroots leaders to health volunteers and other individuals in this campaign. We are hopeful we will reach our target within the set time,” he pointed out.

By Jean Pierre Bucyensenge, The New Times

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