The World BankRwanda Economic Update that focused on Malnutritionwas launched at UR-CMHS

The World BankRwanda Economic Update that focused on Malnutritionwas launched at UR-CMHS

On June 21st 2018 at the University of Rwanda, College of Medicine and Health Sciences Remera Campus, The World Bank Rwanda Economic Update, June 2018 was launched under the theme: Tackling Stunting - An Unfinished Agenda.

According to the World Bank, Rwanda's economy rebounded in the second half of 2017. The rebound, driven by improved export performance and revitalized agriculture, pushed annual growth to 6.1 percent and led to upward revisions of the growth projections for 2018 and 2019. Although growth is currently recovering and is more balanced, it will most likely continue to be below the high rates achieved during the 2013–15 investment push.

 In a special section, Tackling Stunting: An Unfinished Agenda, the Rwanda Economic Update takes stock of trends in meeting Millennium Development Goals’ health targets and efforts deployed to eliminate the underlying causes of the chronic malnutrition or stunting. Although chronic malnutrition or stunting has declined from about 50% (2005) to 38% (2014/2015) of children under 5, it remains a major challenge. Stunting rates are highest among the poorest households and those living in rural areas (50%).

 However, over the past 15 years, the report noted encouraging trends in many of the underlying causes of malnutrition—care practices, environmental health, food adequacy—but gaps persist. The most significant improvements occurred in care practices, such as coverage of antenatal, facility delivery, and postnatal practices with gaps narrowing for all wealth quintiles. Rwanda has a unique opportunity to create a positive virtuous cycle of producing a generation of well-nourished children who grow, thrive, and reach their full potential, contribute to human capital development, and contribute to future economic growth.

The World Bank Group projects that the economy will grow by 7 per cent riding on exports, agriculture sector and narrowing trade imbalance.

Presenting their analysis of the economy, an economist at the organization, Aghassi Mkrtchyan said that the revision was informed by the improved momentum in exports and agriculture.

He noted that exports in 2017 had positive trends and were expanding beyond traditional exports such as coffee and tea.

“We have seen the exports of goods now surpassing $1 billion mark which is quite an impressive trend,” he said.

 The exports have also been buoyed by improving prices of commodities in the international market which is further expected to improve this year.

“Rwanda experienced a major external adjustment in 2017. There were a mix of factors among them prudent demand management, competitive exchange rate, higher prices for commodity exports and continued expansion of non-traditional exports. This helped reduce the current account deficit from more than 15 per cent in 2016 to about 7 per cent in 2017” the update’s summary read in part.

This has also created a more competitive exchange rate which is supporting performance of non-traditional exports which enabled improvement of receipts.

“The government’s renewed commitment to scaling up investments in agriculture will enhance the sector’s medium term outlook,” Mkrtchyan said.

The stability of inflation rates this year has also added to the confidence of improved performance this year.

The prevailing risks to the projected growth include poor weather that could affect agriculture which is largely rain-fed.

External risks, the economist say include reversal of current global recovery which could reduce prices of Rwanda’s exports in the international market.

“In addition, the private sector’s unenthusiastic response to the improved investment climate is a major threat to growth sustainability. The recent growth slowdown has exposed limitations of the public investment led model and the importance of the private sector,” the World Bank observed.

 The economy in 2017 grew by 6.1 per cent surpassing earlier projections of 5.2 per cent.

The International Monetary Fund had in March this year projected that the economy would grow by 7.2 per cent in 2018 riding on the services sector, agriculture and a rebound in construction activities.

Dr Anita Asiimwe, the National Early Childhood Development Program coordinator(center) adressing the meeting

Dr.Anita Asiimwe spoke to the media about the challenges of malnutrition among children

Participants at the launch of the economic update meeting

The Ag.Principal of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences Dr. Jeanne Kagwiza officially opened the meeting

The Goverment Chief Economist Amina Rwakunda(third from left) attended the meeting

The World Bank Country  Manager Yasser El-Gammal giving his remarks