RWANDA – The government of Rwanda has secured a US$91 million (Rwf83bn) funding from Japan to supplement the country’s effort to tackle malnutrition, reports New Times Rwanda.
The agreement was signed between Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana, Chief Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Shin Maruo and Takayuki Miyashita, the Japanese ambassador to Rwanda.
Ndagijimana said that the funding is a highly concessional loan – extended on terms substantially more generous than market loans – with an interest rate of 0.01 per cent, to be repaid in 40 years, and a 10-year grace period.
The funding will be used to implement a Nutrition Improvement through Agricultural Transformation programme scheduled to run from 2019 to 2021.
It will focus mainly on two components; food security and multi-sectoral coordination. Officials noted that this is Japan’s first Sector Policy Loan to the Government of Rwanda.
The programme will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).
The bodies will also work in conjunction with the National Early Childhood Development Programme (NECDP) and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) under the supervision of MINECOFIN.
Ndagijimana said: “It is the first time the government of Japan is providing a loan through our budget support.
“This is evidence of the Japanese government’s trust in our systems and efficiency as regards the use of money for development initiatives.
“This programme will boost government efforts to modernise our agriculture, an area where Japan has been actively contributing. Cooperation with the government of Japan has been growing strong over the years through project support.”
The programme is expected to help the Ministry of Agriculture set up nutrition sensitive agriculture guidelines, strengthen the availability of protein rich food through the small livestock distribution programme under RAB.
Furthermore, it will leverage on achievements of the Smallholder Market oriented Agriculture Project (SMAP), a JICA technical cooperation project to build the capacity of targeted beneficiaries in terms of nutrition aspects.
Despite substantial growth in agricultural production over the past 10 years, food security and nutrition remain concerns.
Since 2012, official statistics show, Rwanda has recorded a decline in stunting among children aged between six months and five years, from 42 per cent to 35 per cent in 2018. Rwanda targets to reduce stunting below 19% by fiscal year 2023/2024 .