The City of Kigali has come up with a new model dubbed ‘Malnutrition Basket Battle’ aimed to help street children in the city and malnourished children.
The initiative was unveiled in Gasabo district on Wednesday November 18, during the launch of a campaign called ‘Operation Usafi’ that seeks to promote hygiene, security and mobilize resources to support street children and stunted children.
The Malnutrition Basket Battle model will see districts seeking ‘subsidiary caregivers and stakeholders’ to follow up the children with issues and support their existing parents or caregivers in terms of changing mindset and financial capacity to care for the children.
The new model is founded on the fact that in the City of Kigali, 23 percent of children under five are stunted (too short for their age) according to the latest Demographic and Health Survey (RDHS).
It shows that stunting is highest in Nyarugenge with 29 percent, followed by Gasabo with 22 percent and lowest in Kicukiro with 17 percent.
Two percent of children under age 5 are wasted (too thin for their height) in the City of Kigali.
Nutrition experts say children who do not receive adequate nutrition can be susceptible to growth faltering, micronutrient deficiencies, and common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections (ARIs).
As a result, most of these children become street children as a result of failure in responsibility by their parents according to Pudence Rubingisa, the City Mayor.
“To make matters worse, many end up victims of teen pregnancies. This campaign should guide all other districts on how to cope with the issue,” he said.
A survey by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion done in 2019 indicated that there were 2,883 street children across the country and by May, 2020 at least 1, 433 had been returned to their families.
Statistics show that between March and May, 2020 at least 744 children were taken off streets and reunited with their families while others taken to rehabilitation centres with 14.7 percent of recidivism.
Pauline Umwali, the District Executive Administrator of Gasabo district said Malnutrition Basket Battle model started with 21 stunted children from 1st Ubudehe category and 79 street children who at least returned to streets three times. From there, they will take on more.
“We analyzed the issue of street and children and found it recurrent in all eight sectors of our district. However, the issue was caused by parents who failed to discharge their responsibility.
Street children also face malnutrition. The ultimate goal is to ensure all parents in communities are brought on board to either help in changing the mindset of such irresponsible parents, or contributing financially towards sustenance of such children.”
The district has promised to reintegrate all street children with families by December.
Dr Anita Asiimwe as Director-General of National Child Development Agency, the newly created body to ensure children’s rights, said that there are particular issues faced by street children and stunted children in Gasabo district and Kigali city in general.
“I looked at the latest figures on stunting and it requires urgency even though figures seem to have declined. The new survey findings are yet to be published. Due to conditions of some parents, they fail their responsibility to children. We have to seek how to reach these parents and see what to do.” she said.
Anastase Shyaka, the Minister of Local Government tasked the city authorities to address the issue of street children.
“The districts stick to foster home grown solutions to address human security issues. They should work with parents to address street children issues,” she said.
He urged local leaders who were provided transport vehicles to use them in reaching out to communities and families with human security issues.