About the project

The responsible life-sciences innovations for development in the digital age: Environmental Virtual Observatories for Connective Action (EVOCA) in crop, water, livestock and disease management (shortly EVOCA) is a multi-year collaborative, interdisciplinary programme implemented between 2016 and 2022 by Wageningen University and seven partner institutions. Funding support for EVOCA was received from the Wageningen Interdisciplinary Research and Education Fund (INREF).

How can life-science knowledge, digital technologies, and responsible innovation concepts be leveraged in development contexts to build inclusive, virtual platforms for environmental information that enable connective action for addressing development challenges in crop, water, health, and wildlife management?
EVOCA's central research question

EVOCA addresses socio-ecological challenges that relate to the management of public goods and the prevention of public bads in rural Africa. Under the umbrella of EVOCA, various participatory monitoring systems, virtual platforms, and digital applications geared towards facilitating connective action were developed and studied. In total, the programme included case studies on six different complex problems in four African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda).

It did this based on the notion that e.g. biodiversity, health, agricultural production, and water systems are affected by spatial and temporal variabilities and dynamics within socio-ecological systems. EVOCA applied and studied digital technologies, citizen science and participatory approaches, and game methods to assess how new forms of communication and organization may complement traditional organising agents for achieving collective action.

The programme followed the 'logic of connective action' where even fragmented populations share (often personalized) content across media networks and the shared content in turn contributes to collective knowledge and coordinated action.