Rwanda Sets up early Childhood Development Centers to combat child stunting
February, 03rd 2020
Imbuto Foundation and Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), announced their partnership on Thursday, January 30, 2020, to set up 5000 new home-based Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in 300 sectors across Rwanda.
The new home-based ECDs will provide holistic care; education, nutrition and healthcare to children between the ages of two and five. “One of the objectives of the program is to address challenges in early development which includes stunting.” Sandrine Umutoni, the Director-General of Imbuto Foundation said. Umutoni also disclosed that the foundation “will be working with local leaders and partners to reduce cases of stunting.”
According to the World Health Organization, the brain develops most rapidly in the first few years of a child’s life but can be disrupted through stunting from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psycho-social stimulation. Stunted children with deficiencies of iodine and iron may suffer irreversible brain damage, impeding them from reaching their complete developmental potential.
In Rwanda, malnutrition and stunting have been and are still prevailing issues with recent reports showing that 38 percent of children below the age of five are stunted. However, the Rwandan government established the National Early Childhood Development Programme (NECDP) with the mandate to fast-track the fight against early childhood development. Together with the joint initiative by LODA and Imbuto Foundation, there will be a significant reduction in the stunting rate of children in the East African country.
Commenting on the partnership, Nyinawagaga Claudine, Director-General of LODA, said that the agency “sought to learn from the seven-year experience of Imbuto Foundation in this field,” of early child development. Claudine added that “being one of the forefront implementers of social protection programs in Rwanda, LODA wished to give its contribution to the national commitment of investing in early childhood development for a prosperous nation.”
The proposed ECD centres under the management of LODA and Imbuto Foundation will provide modules for training caregivers and supervisors, monitor their progress and ensure programs like water and sanitation (hand-washing), nutrition, and other early childhood topics are properly taught.
Tackling child stunting especially through adequate nutrition requires a multisectoral effort by the government, private sector institutions, and individuals. Through programs that support socioeconomic and social development goals in Rwanda, child stunting will likely decrease. This is because the programs do not only increase early stimulation and learning but also extends the cognitive and socioemotional development in children beyond their first two years of life.