Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Natural Resources

Major Professor

Adam Willcox

Committee Members

Tom Gill, Neelam Poudyal, Liem Tran


As food demand increases globally, the world faces the challenge of feeding everyone without harming the environment. Meeting this challenge requires increased food production. Paradoxically, increased food production can harm the environment and natural resources. Change in consumption patterns offers an opportunity to reconcile the increase in food production and environmental protection. However, consumption patterns can only change if they are perceived first, then acted upon. Research shows that people who perceive their consumption of natural resources are more likely to conserve them as they can see how much they are consuming. This study investigated perceptions of natural resources and environmental behaviors among farmers in Musanze District, northern Rwanda. The first part of this research investigated perceptions of water and charcoal consumption among farmers. A survey was used to collect data from 323 farmers involved in a poultry development project in the district. Results indicate that the perception of charcoal consumption was associated with three variables: living in the urban section of the district, the amount of feed consumed by chickens, and the elevation at which the coop is located. To examine farmers’ environmental behaviors, the second chapter of the research employed the various existing theories to assess the influence of attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavior control, and other factors on farmers’ behavioral intent to engage in rainwater harvesting, the use of organic fertilizer, and the use of alternative sources of energy for domestic cooking. To conduct the study, a survey was conducted from a randomly selected sample of 604 farmers from 7 sectors of the district of Musanze in northern Rwanda. A Structural Equation Model (SEM) approach was used to analyze data. Results revealed that farmers’ decision to engage in environmental behaviors depends on their attitudes, social norms, perceived behavior control, and other background factors. Overall, the results provided useful insights into understanding farmers’ decision-making towards nature and the environment. The last part of the research applied spatial analysis to examine farmers’ behaviors. Results showed that in addition to the presence of spatial dependence, there are spatial clusters of farmers’ behavioral intent in some regions of the study area.

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