For the last two decades, malnutrition has persisted as a significant public health problem in Rwanda, contributing to high infant and child mortality rates across the country. Recent international and national surveys point to the disturbing fact that nearly half of Rwandan children under five suffer from stunting caused by malnutrition, with underweight prevalence affecting up to 1 in 8 under-five children.1
The most ambitious government initiative to date has been the launch of the National Multisectoral Strategy to Eliminate Malnutrition (NmSEM), with a three-year Action Plan for Implementation (2010-2013) to reduce by 30 percent all forms of malnutrition in Rwanda by 2013. The Action Plan consists of eight nutrition-related strategies, each consisting of several measurable results.4
Enter DevInfo. The UN-endorsed database system had been previously adopted by the Government of Rwanda for monitoring progress towards achievement of the 2008-2012 Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy as well the Millennium Development Goals. Consequently, the Ministry of Health, with support from partners, decided to also retain the use of DevInfo to monitor the implementation of DPEM modelling in six districts.
Indicators used to monitor DPEM progress towards achieving the eight nutrition strategies are being entered into DevInfo databases. Once complete, these databases will allow planners, decision-makers and policy-makers at the district level and within national line ministries and development partners to analyze data, monitor and evaluate progress, generate reports, adjust existing strategies, and set new priorities, among other activities.
The Ministry of Health in Rwanda, with the support of partners including UNICEF, organized a series of workshops in May 2011 to begin creating databases in DevInfo for six selected districts modelling DPEM implementation. District technical teams with central level support and development partners gathered to provide critical input into the selection of database indicators and data values, ensuring that the final databases would fully support full implementation of the NmSEM.
With DevInfo helping to monitor the Government of Rwanda’s campaign to end malnutrition, the country stands an even better chance of improving the lives of its most vulnerable citizens in the years ahead.
Data making a difference.
1 2010 Rwanda DHS Preliminary Report, National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda.
2 National Multisectoral Strategy for the Elimination of Malnutrition, Action Plan for Implementation 2010 - 2013, Ministry of Health, Republic of Rwanda, p. 12.
3 Ibid., p. 13.
4 Ibid., pp. 14-15