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When Local Trade-Offs between SDGs Turn Out to Be Wealth-Dependent: Interaction between Expanding Rice Cultivation and Eradicating Malaria in Rwanda

Alexis Rulisa (), Luuk van Kempen () and Dirk-Jan Koch ()
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Alexis Rulisa: Department of Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies, and Radboud Social Cultural Research, Radboud University, 6525 XZ Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Luuk van Kempen: Department of Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies, and Radboud Social Cultural Research, Radboud University, 6525 XZ Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Dirk-Jan Koch: Department of Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies, and Radboud Social Cultural Research, Radboud University, 6525 XZ Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Sustainability, 2022, vol. 14, issue 4, 1-24

Abstract: Interactions between SDGs are increasingly mapped and mediating factors that determine whether existing synergies or trade-offs can be identified. However, if and how the wealth status of the concerned population shapes whether SDG interaction constitutes a vicious or virtuous circle is largely overlooked. This article focuses on interaction between SDG2 (nutrition) and SDG3 (health), in particular, the relationship between rice production intensification and the fight against malaria, and thus the role of wealth in explaining the trade-off. This study employed a large-scale survey of rural households ( n = 3968) in eastern Rwanda, conducted at a time when a rapid expansion of rice fields co-existed with a strong resurgence of malaria. Logistic regression shows that rice-cultivating households faced significant higher malaria risk, as proxied by fever incidence, confirming the negative externality of agricultural intensification on public health through offering a habitat for vector-borne diseases. Even though rice-cultivating households tend to be higher up the local wealth distribution than those outside the rice sector, its distributional effects are generally biased against the poor. Poorer households outside the rice sector hardly share in the benefits from increased rice production but suffer the consequences in terms of increased malaria risk. The case thus draws attention to the importance of using a distributional lens when analyzing interaction between SDGs locally.

Keywords: SDGs; trade-off; malaria; rice cultivation; paddy paradox; nutrition; Rwanda (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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