The private sector joins the fight against malnutrition in Rwanda
Rwanda has made addressing malnutrition a top priority, with the government and development partners investing significant resources in recent years to increase access to nutritious foods and raise awareness of their benefits.
In December 2022, the country officially launched its Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network, supported by the World Food Programme (WFP), Sight and Life, and the National Child Development Agency (NCDA).
The private sector plays a pivotal role throughout the food chain, from production to supply. Thus, the sector’s engagement is essential in maintaining access to nutritious food in Rwanda and ensuring its availability and affordability.
Several efforts have already been made to involve Rwandan businesses in the advancement of the nutrition agenda, including the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority food fortification platform, Rwanda Standards Board technical committees, the nutrition and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) technical working groups, and the Private Sector Federation.
Building on these initiatives, the SUN Business Network (SBN) gives the country a single centralized network to unite private sector actors on the issue of nutrition.
“When children are nourished, we break the cycle of poverty,” said Edith Heines, WFP Representative and Country Director in Rwanda, during the launch ceremony. “Our hope is that this network will lead to the enhancement of food fortification, product reformulation, food safety and affordable nutritious products of all levels.”
The network will contribute to the mobilization of private sector companies to play a key role in the fight against malnutrition by increasing the supply of and demand for healthier and affordable foods. In addition, it is through a platform like the SBN that food fortification programmes will be implemented as food processors will be supported to acquire skills. Other technical assistance will also be provided to support the efforts of the private sector in the country.
“We are excited to welcome Rwanda to the SUN Business Network family,” said Emily Heneghan Kasoma, Global SBN Coordinator. “We look forward to working with the national team and colleagues from other countries to help drive business engagement and investment towards improving nutrition and healthy diets for all Rwandans.”
Established in 2012 and co-convened by the WFP and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, the SBN is the only dedicated platform that convenes the private sector around nutrition across SUN Countries. Its vision is to reduce malnutrition in all its forms by bringing together the private sector, Governments and other stakeholders and equipping them to take joint, practical actions to improve nutrition.