Pathway 3 - Food security and nutrition

Pathway 3 - Food security and nutrition

This pathway contributes to change by:

Promoting vulnerable women's access to land, natural resources and food, improved food production methods and better food utilization techniques. This will lead to improved food security (including nutritional status and gender equitable food consumption).

 See below for the specific sections of this pathway. For further information on each section please refer to the attached document.


This pathway will aim to have an impact on all vulnerable women.

As the context analysis within the document shows, almost half of Rwandan households are food insecure or highly vulnerable to food insecurity. Our experience shows that all vulnerable women are very likely to fall in this group.

This said specific attention will be given to pregnant and lactating mothers, who are in an extra vulnerable position and whose nutrition is of high importance to themselves and to their (unborn) children.

CARE Rwanda is committed to work in partnership. In this pathway, our strategic partners are:

  • The Ministry of Agriculture, being in charge of the development and implementation of laws and policies related to food security
  • The Ministry of Health, who has a program on nutritional education.
  • The National Women’s Council at both national and decentralized levels, who leads important initiatives like ‘umugoroba w’ababyeyi’ where nutritional issues are discussed among parents

In addition to the above, CARE Rwanda aims to create strategic partnerships with private sector actors, such as agricultural cooperatives or the sosoma industry.

Apart from the strategic partners, many implementing partners contribute to this pathway. Please refer to our website for the descriptions of the projects under this pathway and get to know our implementing partners.

  • The National Nutrition Policy (MINSANTE, 2005) sets several objectives for decreases in quantitative and qualitative malnutrition, with a specific focus on pregnant women, children and mothers.
  • The National Community Health Policy (MINISANTE, 2008) guides among others the National Programme on Community-Based Nutrition.
  • The Multisectoral Strategy to Eliminate Malnutrition (MINISANTE, 2010) demonstrates the government’s commitment to eliminate all forms of malnutrition in the country and to ensure better health and development for children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • The Organic Law Determining the Use and Management of Land in Rwanda (2005) determines equal rights of wife and husband over their land and prohibits any discrimination in matters relating to ownership or possession of rights over the land based on sex.
  • The Law on Matrimonial Regimes, Liberalities and Successions (1999) explains the equal rights of wives and daughters to possessions in cases of divorce or death of the spouse or parents, including land.
  • The National Land Policy (MINIRENA, 2004) regulates land use and recognizes the male-dominated cultural practices regarding inheritance of land as a problem to women’s access to land.

Besides the above mentioned policies, a number of laws, policies and strategies are relevant to the VW program as a whole. These are described in section A3 of the full program document.

In order for a woman to exercise her right to inherit and access land, it is an important first step that she as well as the wider community is aware of the laws and policies that stipulate this right. CARE Rwanda and its partners will use different channels to raise this awareness, including:

  • Capacity building of VSL group members. Typically, this is done by the training of peer educators who then train the other women in their VSL group and possibly also in the wider community;
  • Capacity building of local leaders and key opinion leaders such as religious leaders;
  • Training of theatre groups that play sketches containing relevant messages;
  • Capacity building of LNGOs and media on women’s rights, in order for them to disseminate this information;
  • Messages during sport events or other occasions where many people come together;
  • Partner with organizations that specialize in popularization of laws and policies, e.g. through the dissemination of booklets with explanation of new laws or community trainings on laws and policies.

This area of intervention is one to be scaled up through local partners. Please also refer to pathway 5 which aims at enabling women to exercise their rights, including the facilitation of their access to (para)legal support.

Challenging negative social and gender norms

Women’s limited possibilities to access land and food supplies in the household are very strongly linked to negative social norms. CARE Rwanda and its partners will address these through the engagement of men in the promotion of women’s rights. Through a set of initiatives including dialogue, exercises, role models, etc., negative social norms are challenged and behavior change is promoted.

Please see pathway 6 for a detailed description on men engagement.

Grassroots advocacy for conflict resolution around land issues

CARE Rwanda works with GBV activists, peer educators and case managers to prevent and follow up on GBV cases (see also pathways 8 and 10).

Among the cases that these local activists will treat, are those that are related to inheritance of and access to land for women. Their capacity is built to advocate with local authorities to follow up on these cases and where needed, refer them to the judiciary system.

Village Savings and Loans and Income Generating Activities

Food insecurity in Rwanda is often a problem of lack of the financial means to buy food at the household, rather than necessary a problem of availability of food at the community level. Therefore, CARE Rwanda and its partners aim to improve vulnerable women’s access to financial means through VSL and income generating activities. This will allow them either to buy food or to invest in e.g. small livestock or a piece of land to increase food production.

Please refer to pathway 1 and section C2 for a description of the VSL model and related approaches to increase income.

Kitchen gardens

For households that have no or a very limited amount of land, kitchen gardens are a way of nevertheless grow a small amount of crops, on little pieces of land around the house. CARE Rwanda and its partners provide training and an initial amount of seed to get households started. This approach will be scaled-up based on the guidelines that are available from the GoR as well as our own experience.

Use human waste as fertilizer

In its work on WASH, CARE Rwanda it currently engaged in innovation around sanitation marketing. In this approach, it is promoting the use of the ECOSAN latrine, which allows the use of human waste as fertilizer.

After being trained, households will be able to use their latrine to retrieve fertilizer, as such reducing financial investment needed in food production and/or increasing yields.

This approach is currently in the phase of innovation.

Education on balanced diets

Malnutrition is often as much a matter of food quality as of food quantity. CARE Rwanda and its partners will increase awareness on how to prepare a healthy, balanced diet with locally available food products through cooking demonstrations, awareness raising through mass campaigns (through media, messages during public events such as sport matches, posters, etc.), and training of VSL peer educators

In addition, CARE will support the community hygiene clubs that part of the government’s Community-Based Environmental Health Promotion Program (CBEHPP), which includes nutrition among its topics (see also pathway 4). Although CARE Rwanda has some experience within the OVC program, further innovation on this approach in the context of the VW program is needed.

Promote energy-efficient cooking methods

This includes the promotion of alternative energy sources and improved stoves for cooking, as well as capacity building of charcoal makers on the production of more efficient charcoal. This leads to more efficient use and protection of environmental resources, ensuring that the already limited amount of arable land in Rwanda will not further reduce. Also, it allows households to spend less of their resources on energy, and thus potentially more on food.

CARE Rwanda will look for opportunities to scale-up this approach, using its experience and the existing tools from earlier projects.

Resilience to climate change

Climate change poses a very real risk to household’s future food security. CARE will facilitate communities to carry out CVCAs – Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments, which show the potential weaknesses and strengths of a community when it comes to the effects of climate change. Based on the results of the assessment, CARE helps the community to further build on its capacities and tackle its vulnerability.

Typically this will include e.g. rainwater harvesting, small-scale irrigation, tree planning and soil protection. This is a rather new intervention area for CARE Rwanda, and is currently in the stage of innovation.

In addition, CARE Rwanda will continue to learn from CARE International’s work on climate change, with the aim to adopt those approaches that are relevant to the Rwanda context, and to pilot and adapt them to the extent necessary to the local circumstances.

Community Scorecard on agricultural extension services

The Community Scorecard (CSC) is an approach that facilitates dialogue between citizens and service providers. It allows citizens to monitor and give feedback on the quality of a certain service provided. Through the process, they are enabled to advocate with the service providers and local authorities to solve certain problems or prioritize specific areas of service delivery.

At the same time, service providers have the opportunity to explain their decisions and challenges, and engage citizens in service provision. The CSC aims to improve citizen participation in decision making, transparency and accountability, while at the same time improving the quality of the service delivered to the citizens.

In the context of this pathway, the CSC will be used with regards to agricultural extension services, with a particular aim to include vulnerable women in its process to promote their equal access to these service. The CSC has successfully been tested within the PPIMA project, but some further innovation is needed in order to make the process less time-consuming and as such more user-friendly before it is ready for scale-up. Where local authorities are positive towards the approach, advocacy will aim at the inclusion of the CSC in their performance contracts. Please read more about the Community Scorecard in section C2.

CARE expects this pathway to contribute to an improvement in vulnerable women's lives in combination with the other pathways of Domain of Change 1. Therefore, impact will be measured at the level of the Domain of Change rather than at the level of this pathway. Please refer to section D1 of the full program document for the DoC level indicators.

  • In 3 villages in Kayonza and Gatsibo Districts that host returnees from Tanzania and were particularly food insecure, CARE Rwanda has raised awareness on fruit tree cultivation, kitchen gardens and balanced diets through its 'Integrated Reinsertion Approach to Returnee' (IRAR) and 'Reconstruction and Integration Aid to Rwandan Returnees who have been expelled from Tanzania' Projects. This led to more diversity in available food items. Beneficiaries reported lower under-five mortality and fewer deaths related to malnutrition as a result.
  • CARE's RIWSP project has raised awareness on methods to improve household food production, including demonstrations on kitchen gardens, fruit nurseries and small-scale irrigation. Although it is at the time of writing to early to see an actual impact, this is expected to lead to increased yields.
  • Between 2006 and 2012, CARE Rwanda and its partners facilitated the set-up of 8,160 VSL groups, with a total of 241,523 members, 78% women. Total savings in the most recent cycle add up to 2,578,903USD, with 89% outstanding in loans. 0.3% of the loan portfolio was at risk. Around 30% of members access formal financial services. (Source: VSL MIS)
  • ISARO (Kinyarwanda for 'pearl')
  • Charcoal Project
  • Rwanda Integrated Water Security Program (RIWSP)
  • Community-Assisted Access to Sustainable Energy (CASE) Project
  • Public Policy Information Monitoring (PPIMA) Project
  • Enterprise, Environment and Equity in the Virunga Landscape of the Great Lakes (EEEGL) Project
  • Farmers of the Future Initiative (FOFI)

To continuously improve its work, CARE Rwanda is committed to learning. In the light of this pathway, it seeks answer the following questions:

  1. How can we deal with the cultural barriers, fears of health risks and lack of technical knowledge related to the use of human waste as manure?
  2. How can we use recent new techniques of water-preserving kitchen gardens?
  3. What exactly is CARE's niche in food security, and how can we link up with more agriculturally specialized organizations to add value to their work?