A child's first 1,000 days in Rwanda

From pregnancy until a child's second birthday, the first 1,000 days offer a unique window of opportunity to build healthier and more prosperous futures.

By Veronica Houser
Mother and baby in Rwanda during nutrition assessment smile together
01 December 2017

RUTSIRO, Rwanda - Nutrition during pregnancy and in the first years of a child’s life provides the essential building blocks for brain development, healthy growth and a strong immune system.

The Government of Rwanda’s “First 1,000 Days” health campaign, supported by UNICEF and funded in part by the Government of the Netherlands, aims to combat malnutrition in this critical window. The campaign involves mass media, community health workers, and behaviour change mobilsation to promote good nutrition and hygiene to combat disease.

Rutsiro District landscape Rwanda

To see the impact of the First 1,000 Days campaign, we visited Vincent and Clementine in beautiful Rutsiro District.

Vincent, 31, and Clementine, 28, live in Mushubati Sector of Rutsiro District, nestled high in the hills above Lake Kivu on the western edge of Rwanda.

Family of four in Rwanda with two small children stand outside rural home

Clementine and Vincent have two children.

Shadrack, the oldest, is five years old, and baby Ruhinga is just 10 months.

Mother with young son in Rwanda washes hands with soap

Clementine knows that hygiene is an important part of good health and nutrition. Teaching her son Shadrack how to wash properly is one way to fight diseases that contribute to malnutrition.

Vincent raises cows for his family, which supplement their diet for a healthy variety of foods.

Man with his cow in rural Rwanda
Woman in Rwanda farms cabbages outside rural home with children

Clementine shared how vegetables are essential for a healthy, balanced diet, especially for baby Ruhinga, who is still within the first 1,000 days of his life.

Man in Rwanda with corn in home in rural area

Vincent also grows corn, which the family can grind and mix with other foods to make nutritious porridge for their children.

Young boy in Rwanda plays with homemade toys and runs near house.

Shadrack had a healthy first 1,000 days, allowing him to grow strong to run and play like this!

From Clementine and Vincent’s knowledge of the importance of a child's first 1,000 days, their baby has grown healthy and strong like his brother.