An Environmental Justice Perspective on Smallholder Pesticide Use in Sub-Saharan Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Pesticide use is increasing in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and many smallholders purchase, handle, and apply toxic pesticides with inadequate equipment, knowledge, and technical support. Through the frame of environmental justice, this literature-based study analyzes characteristics, impacts, and drivers of smallholder pesticide use in sub-Saharan Africa, with particular attention to Uganda as a case. We find that market liberalization, poor regulation enforcement, and persistent neglect of agricultural extension place the burden of risk largely on farmers, while perceived necessity of pesticides and the elusive nature of impacts (especially under conditions of insufficient monitoring) likely delay social mobilization around pesticides. The environmental justice frame, which has seen limited application in smallholder contexts, importantly helps delineate future directions for research and practice. It is particularly effective for redirecting focus from highly limited managerial solutions for “safe use” toward deeper problem drivers and solutions capable of tackling them.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
  • Agricultural Occupational Health and Safety


  • agrochemicals, environmental health, environmental justice, Integrated pest management, pest management, pesticides, slow violence, smallholder farming
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalThe Journal of Environment & Development
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020 Dec 3
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

Ellinor Isgren & Elina Andersson

FORMAS, a Swedish research council for sustainable development


Project: ResearchInterdisciplinary research

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