Responsible life-science innovations for development in the digital age: EVOCA

EVOCA (Environmental Virtual Observatories For Connective Action) is a collaborative interdisciplinary project of Wageningen University and seven partner institutions. It focusses on knowledge sharing platforms (known as Environmental Virtual Observatories, EVOs) and their potential to transform the development landscape in five case study areas in rural Africa.

People in rural Africa face social, economic and political challenges in sustaining their livelihoods. But the natural environments on which they depend are also under pressure. Global environmental change affects biodiversity, health, agriculture and water systems, endangering the subsistence of many agrarian societies.

The project builds upon launching five farmer-led environmental virtual observatories in four African countries. These ICT-based platforms enable the users to share environmental information across media networks, facilitating connective action among dissociated populations. They allow linking science-based models of dynamic natural processes with participatory monitoring and broad information accessibility.

Timely information on relevant environmental dynamics (such as water levels, spread of plant pests or prevalence of disease-carrying insects) via mobile technologies holds considerable promise to overcome these problems. ICT-based platforms like EVOCAS enable and encourage users to share relevant environmental information across media networks; contributing to collective knowledge and coordinated action.

Central research question

How can life-science knowledge, digital technologies and responsible innovation concepts be leveraged to address the pressing development challenges in crop, water, health and wildlife management?

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