Civil Society Organizations Unite To Scale Up Nutrition in Rwanda
Cecile Teteli is a Nutrition Team Leader at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Rwanda. Since the launch of the CRS campaign Scaling Up Nutrition launched in October 2014, she has advocated for different actors, especially civil society organisations, to support government nutritional campaigns such as the 1,000 Days of Nutrition.
On March 25 2015 – Catholic Relief Services-Rwanda (CRS-Rwanda), together with partners, facilitated the establishment of the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance (SUN CSA) in Rwanda. Fifty-nine civil society organizations (CSOs) working in nutrition participated as founding members of the Alliance, supported by stakeholder representatives from the government, academia, donor organizations, and the private sector.
Delivering welcome remarks, Marie Noëlle Senyana-Mottier, CRS-Rwanda Country Manager, said that the SUN CSA in Rwanda will act as a collective voice on behalf of those most vulnerable in the communities that they serve. Together, they will broaden engagement, coordinate efforts, and mobilize both civil society organizations and key stakeholders to scaling up nutrition in Rwanda.
On behalf of the SUN Focal Point for the Government of Rwanda, Mr. Alexis Mucumbitsi, of the nutrition desk at the Ministry of Health, shared an overview of the national nutrition situation.
Though the Government has made great strides in reducing acute malnutrition, he highlighted that stunting rates are still among the highest in the world. Not only does stunting undermine the mental and physical growth of Rwanda’s youth, he continued, it also has a drastic effect on the country’s prospects. He concluded by expressing gratitude to the CSOs who are taking an active role in the fight against malnutrition by joining the SUN CSA in Rwanda, recognizing CRS-Rwanda and partners for coordinating its establishment, and promising strong government support and collaboration.
During the event, which served as the first SUN CSA in Rwanda General Assembly Meeting, CSOs were oriented on the progress of SUN Movement implementation in Rwanda. Since the launch of the Civil Society Platform on October 30th, 2014, CRS-Rwanda and partners have both facilitated community-level mobilization and sensitization of CSOs, as well as established district-level committees to ensure coordination among CSOs working in nutrition. Members also validated the Alliance’s Terms of Reference and elected an Executive Committee, which consists of Society for Family Health as Chair, Catholic Relief Services Rwanda as Co-Chair, and Catholic University of Rwanda as Interim Secretary.
The SUN CSA in Rwanda will contribute to this effort through the mobilization of CSOs in Rwanda to advocate for nutrition-related issues such as research on under nutrition and stunting, collaboration with the Government to integrate nutrition into policies, and engagement with the private sector to expand markets of nutritious foods/products according to needs.