Pathway 3 - Food security and nutrition

Pathway 3 - Food security and nutrition

This pathway contributes to change by:

Promoting improved utilization of food resources and more equitable intra-household distribution of food. This is expected to lead to improved quality and quantity of food intake and as a result to improved and sustained nutrition of OVC.

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


  • All OVC of 0-5 years old. Nutrition at young age strongly influences children’s development at a later age. Pregnant women are targeted to ensure good health of the child at birth.
  • Children without adult support. This group often find it difficult to acquire money to buy food, have difficulties managing their resources and lack information on how to prepare a balanced meal.
  • Children from historically marginalized groups. They face food insecurity due to poverty and lack of knowledge on good nutritional practices.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture is the main actor responsible in the country on food security. It implements among others the ‘One Cow per Family’ initiative and distributes seed to vulnerable families.
  • The Ministry of Local Government supports childheaded households in their access to land.
  • The Ministry of Health has nutrition as part of its mandate and focuses among others on maternal, infant and young child feeding.
  • WFP is the main actor intervening in the agricultural domain in Rwanda.
  • Rwanda Nutrition Society is an independent advisory board of nutritionists. They are not yet a strategic partner, but seem to potentially have large added value. CARE Rwanda looks into the possibilities to build a partnership with them.


CARE Rwanda’s work on this pathway is informed by the Government of Rwanda’s policy context. Of specific importance to this pathway are:

  • The Integrated Child Rights Policy (MIGEPROF, 2011) identifies a number of government commitments to ensure food security for children and especially OVC.
  • 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 National 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 National Policy of Children’s Health (MINISANTE, 2009) focuses on the health of children up to nine years old. It’s vision is for all children to be born, grow up and develop themselves in healthy conditions. The policy aims at integrating the principles of fairness, solidarity, gender and positive cultural norms.

As the formulation of this pathway already shows, CARE Rwanda does not focus on the production of food (an area on which other, specialized organizations are working), but on its intra-household distribution and use, in order to achieve improved nutrition of OVC. Pathways 4 and 5 contribute, through economic strengthening, to the ability of households’ capacity to procure food. Apart from food, improved water, sanitation and hygiene also contribute to improved nutrition under this pathway. The following models and approaches are used in order to achieve change in the level of food security among OVC:

  • ECD. Through a combination of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers, home-based ECD and home visits, CARE Rwanda supports the psychosocial, cognitive and physical development of children between 0 and 6 years old.
  • Child Mentorship Model. It provides OVC with an adult mentor to help them in multiple areas in their lives. The participating children choose adults they trust to serve as their volunteer mentor.
  • Kitchen gardens & cooking demonstrations. Through training and provision of seeds, CARE helps households containing OVC to set up kitchen gardens. This helps them increase food production on small bits of land around the house, which would otherwise not be used.
  • Changing attitudes around food. Several approaches can lead to increased awareness on the importance of a healthy diet and an fair intra-household food distribution such as social analysis action, positive deviant mothers, the family performance contract, and mass campaigns.
  • Support of Food Production. As stated above, CARE Rwanda currently is not planning to engage in the promotion of food production. However, availability of food is felt as a challenge.

CARE expects this pathway to contribute to an improvement in OVC’s food security and nutrition in combination with the other pathways of Domain of Change 1. Therefore, impact is measured at the level of the Domain of Change (DoC) rather than at the level of this pathway. This pathway contributes to change on the following DoC-level indicator:

  • Prevalence of underweight, stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age.
  • In COSMO project, CARE Rwanda has enabled 1,029 OVC households and 242 households of volunteer mentors across 4 districts to improve their food security through kitchen gardens.
  • Through the ECD approach, Kuraneza project has been able to decrease the malnutrition rate among its beneficiaries. Both Mother Leaders and Community Health Workers reported a decrease in cases of malnutrition.
  • Based on its experiences with the community-based ECD approach, CARE has been able to contribute to an important extent to the development of the National Strategy to Eliminate Malnutrition, the design of its monitoring system and the evaluation of its implementation.
  • Kuraneza (Kinyarwanda for ‘Good growth’)
  • ECDRE (ECD in emergency response)
  • NISU (Nkundabana Initiative ScaleUp)
  • KGAS (Keeping Girls at School)
  • COSMO (Community Support and Mentoring for Orphans and Vulnerable Children)
  • ECD Project (Early Childhood Development Project)

CARE Rwanda is committed to learning, to continuously improve the relevance and quality of its work. In relation to education, it poses itself the following questions:

  1. Does focusing on access to food, efficient use and intra-household food distribution sufficiently solve food insecurity for households containing OVC, or do we need to find other ways to also increase availability of food?
  2. To what extent can public-private partnerships have an added value on the nutritional status of OVC, e.g. through investment in conservation or fortification?
  3. What cultural norms and beliefs exist around child nutrition (including gender norms) and how do they influence a child’s nutritional status?
  4. Strong gender norms related to food and nutrition exist in Rwanda, that influence the role and access of women and girls in food production, food use, etc. How can we ensure that our and our partners’ work does not reinforce any negative norms, but rather contributes to gender transformation in this domain?