An assessment of multidimensional wellbeing in rural Rwanda: impacts of and implications for rural development and natural resource conservation

Dawson, Neil (2013) An assessment of multidimensional wellbeing in rural Rwanda: impacts of and implications for rural development and natural resource conservation. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of Neil_Dawson_UEA_PhD_Thesis_Dev_2013.pdf]
Download (2MB) | Preview


This study applies a multidimensional definition of wellbeing, which includes material, social and subjective dimensions, to household level social research in rural Rwanda. Its contribution lies in applying the approach to three different fields: the study of cultural difference; natural resource management; and agrarian change, and in combining a wellbeing assessment with dominant theories or concepts in each.
Rwanda has received acclaim for meeting development targets despite high levels of poverty and population density. However, due to centralised, target driven policy, those impacts are contested and this thesis presents rare empirical insights from the perspective of rural inhabitants themselves.
The assessment of rural wellbeing forming the basis of three empirical papers reveals that many people struggle to meet basic needs for food, shelter and fuel. In contrast to development indicators, data reveal wellbeing to be falling among many rural households and inequality to be increasing, despite investment-driven health, education and security improvements. Far-reaching policies promoting rural and agricultural modernisation, alongside reconciliation between ethnic groups, appeared only to emphasize difference between groups, with outcomes of poverty reproduced for those with little relative power.
The Twa, an indigenous people, suffer acute difficulties, exacerbated by reduced forest access. However application of a framework combining wellbeing and ecosystem services reveals that a landscape approach to natural resource management could realise synergies between local resource needs and conservation of biodiversity in Rwanda’s rich tropical forests.
The pervasive and authoritarian nature by which development targets are pursued, for example enforcing rural villagisation, has resulted in a perceived loss of freedom, which inhibited local systems of knowledge, labour, trade and social interaction. While such consequences are commonly overlooked, more holistic approaches such as this enable interpretation of complex interrelated systems and promote awareness of local perspectives, with critical implications for the design and assessment of development policy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2014 16:08
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2014 16:08


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item