Engineering environmental resilience: A matched cohort study of the community benefits of trailbridges in rural Rwanda

Evan Thomas, Abigail Bradshaw, Lambert Mugabo, Laura MacDonald, Wyatt Brooks, Katherine Dickinson, Kevin Donovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Rural isolation can limit access to basic services and income-generating opportunities. Among some communities, rainfall induced flooding can cause increased uncertainty where first-mile transportation infrastructure is limited. In Rwanda, this challenge is apparent, where 90% of the population below the poverty line live in rural areas that are typically mountainous with frequent flooding - events that may be increasing in frequency and severity as the climate changes. To reduce these transportation barriers, the non-profit organization Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) plans to construct hundreds of trailbridges in Rwanda between 2018 and 2023. This scale of rural infrastructure services presents an opportunity for experimental investigation of the effects of these new trailbridges on economic, health, agricultural and education outcomes in rural communities. In this paper, we present a cohort study evaluating the potential community benefits of rural trailbridges - including economic, health and social outcomes for Rwandan communities experiencing environmental change. We examined households living near 12 trailbridge sites and 12 comparison sites over February 2019–March 2020. We found that labor market income increased by 25% attributable to the trailbridges. We did not observe any significant effects on agricultural income, education or health outcomes, however given the small sample and short duration of this study we anticipate observing additional outcomes within the recently started 200 site, 4 year trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number145275
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Environment
  • Resilience
  • Rwanda
  • Trailbridge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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