Case studies

The EVOCA programme aimed to boost and study the development of Environmental Virtual Observatories for Connective Action (EVOCAs) in West and East Africa. Six case studies in four African countries covered a range of socio-ecological challenges. Each case study was represented by an interdisciplinary team of Wageningen University researchers, PhD candidate, and local and international partners. Inter- and transdisciplinarity are ingrained in the EVOCA programme. For example, five out of six cases had two PhD researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds (one social sciences, one natural sciences). This contributed to EVOCA’s capacity to study complex problems, public bads, and collective/connective action from diverse perspectives and to make scientific contributions to both the social and the natural sciences.

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Case studies

Potato blight and bacterial wilt in Ethiopia

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Potatoes are a crucial staple food in Ethiopia. The major diseases impeding production are the oomycete Phytophthora infestans which causes late blight, and bacterial wilt with the causal agent Ralstonia solanacearum. For late blight, decision-support tools can help to reduce the number of fungicide applications and optimize disease prevention. Control and containment of seed- and soil-borne bacterial wilt infestations requires organization. This case approached the two disease both from a social-science and natural science perspective to unravel suitable courses of action.

PhD researchers on the case: Elias Damtew Assefa, Shiferaw Tafesse

Coordinating water monitoring and irrigation in Ghana

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To improve food security and sustain livelihoods it is important to integrate water and food production systems, thereby taking into account knowledge and information about current and future climate variability. This case study co-developed and analysed a platform that links water-climate models and local knowledge to facilitate innovative adaptation to climate change in rice production in Ghana.

PhD researchers on the case: Andy Bonaventure Nyamkye, Emmanuel Nyadzi

Control and prevention of malaria in Rwanda

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Successful malaria eradication requires that the relevant stakeholders (people at risk, medical staff, ministries, pest control organisations, farmers, etc.) know how, when and where to take which action. This case used citizen science and developed an EVOCA, ‘Malaria Mosquito Radar’, as a tool for the surveillance and analysis of, and communication about malaria mosquito populations, and for the assessment of outdoor malaria transmission.

PhD researchers on the case: Marilyn Murindahabi, Domina Asingizwe

Tick-borne disease and livestock-wildlife management in Kenya

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In developing countries, livestock is mostly owned by smallholders. Disease reduction in livestock is constrained by domestic animals sharing disease vectors, diseases and grazing lands with wildlife. Primarily focusing on Laikipia district in Kenya, this case study assessed coordinated action scenarios for tick-management both from and individual and a collective perspective.

PhD researchers on the case: Richard Chepkwony, Faith Mutavi

Banana Xanthomonas Wilt control in Rwanda

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This case study analysed the development and use of a digital decision-support and early-warning system that was developed for the control and prevention of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt disease. The case assessed the socio-technical system dimensions that challenge disease management. Beyond that, it looked at the use of participatory design approaches and how these contribute (or not) to achieving the promised impacts of using digital technologies to address complex agricultural problems.

PhD researcher on the case: Mariette McCampbell