Better nutrition through clean kitchens

Better nutrition through clean kitchens

The RET4Nutrition project concluded on a strong note, hosting a delegation from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Rwanda and UNICEF to the final exhibition in Nyamabuye sector, Muhanga District. The visitors spoke with members of an improved cookstoves production cooperative, who had benefited from the project by way of gaining nutrition awareness and direct linkage to markets for their Canarumwe stoves.

As the Renewable Energy Technologies for Nutrition (RET4Nutrition) draws to a close, Muhanga district played host to partners and donors as they sought to take a glimpse of the project activities. The event was the 8th Renewable Energy technology exhibition trade fair hosted in Nyamabuye sector, in Muhanga’s central business district.

On the first day of the exhibition, officials of SNV and UNICEF began their visit with a courtesy call to the district headquarters, where Mayor Beatrice Uwamariya eagerly received them. SNV was represented by Rajesh Shrestha, SNV’s Agriculture sector leader, Elie Nsabimana the acting Country Director and Hudhaifa Gasasira, the RET4Nutrition programme manager. UNICEF sent Kristine Dandanell-Garn, a nutrition specialist while the Mayor was flanked by the district officer in charge of cooperatives, Mary Gikundiro.

Introducing the project to the Mayor, Mrs Garn mentioned the UNICEF nutrition programme involving 10 districts which served as an umbrella to RET4Nutrition: “UNICEF has been pleased by the innovative nature of this project and the collaboration with SNV", Mrs Garn said.

Taking over the mantle, Mr Nsabimana lauded the district for supporting the project. “The district of Muhanga has been supportive and the impact is showing in households; the key is to collaborate to make this sustainable”, the acting country director said.

Taking the floor, the mayor agreed with Mr Nsabimana, promising to collaborate with SNV. “I was an SNV staff before going into public service and everything I know about community development I learnt from SNV. I know the values SNV stands for and am happy to support”, she said. “Minaloc works in social and economic empowerment. We are open to different partnership opportunities, don’t hesitate to knock on the door because I can bear witness to the impact in my district,” she continued, hinting further at potential areas of collaboration.

The party then proceeded to the exhibition opening ceremony where they gave speeches alluding to the impact on nutrition and environmental protection in Muhanga as a result of the RET4Nutrition project. The mayor emphasised her district’s resolve to continue leading in uplifting residents’ wellbeing. She invited exhibiting companies to accompany her to weekly sector meetings across Muhanga in order to advance the market reach they already had with the exhibition.

Up next was a visit to Ubumwe Cooperative, a maize farmers’ group in Mushishiro sector that took a mutual leap into renewable energy and have seen success as a result. The delegation was met by the sector Executive secretary, Marie-Florence Uwanyirigira, the area chief of police, as well as all the members of Ubumwe.

When Epiphanie, the cooperative’s President stood up to speak, she expressed gratitude to SNV for bringing the Save80 stoves which had changed the lives of her members. “Since we got these stoves and received nutrition training, our children eat a balanced diet and hot food. Their tummies no longer bloat and we no longer waste time looking for firewood,” she began. “We had taken a two-year loan for the stoves but it seems we will repay it in 6 months. Next, we want solar lamps so that the children can read at night,” she continued. In conclusion, she urged SNV to train her group to improve their farm production.

After sharing a meal with the cooperative members, the delegation departed.

The very next day, a second delegation, this time made up of UNICEF’s country lead, Yousouff Koita and Pieter Dorst, the head of cooperation at Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, likewise paid the Mayor a courtesy call before proceeding to visit Abakoranabushake Cooperative, a group in Muhanga that is moulding, selling and installing Canarumwe cookstoves.

Abakoranabushake Coop member explains how canarumwe works during the exhibition

Abakoranabushake Coop member explains how canarumwe works during the exhibition

“This type of cookstove is the entry level stove after the three-stone traditional cooking furnace, it uses one log of firewood and reduced emissions in the kitchen by over 50%”, RET4Nutrition program manager Mr Gasasira explained to the guests as they watched the process of moulding the cookstove.

At the Cooperative, Mr Koita picked up an infant and sought to know how the child had benefitted from the project. “I used to feed him sweet potatoes, but now I know better, I give him vegetables and fruits. He is healthier and I am grateful to SNV,” the mother of the infant said.

The guests were visibly excited later when they saw the stoves on sale at the exhibition. The EKN head of cooperation in his speech lauded SNV for the effort toward reducing environmental degradation.