event 14 déc. 2021

Call for Proposals // Launched: third call with South Africa on integrating health approaches and the WEF nexus

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa launched their third call on the WEF nexus, this time with a focus on integrating health approaches. The available budget is € 2,800,000 on the Dutch side, and R10 Million on the South African side, which will allow for the awarding of a maximum of four proposals. The call is part of the Merian Fund. The deadline for pre-proposals is the 1st of March 2022.

Call for proposals WEF Health Nexus

Thematic Focus: Integrating Health Approaches and the WEF Mexus

This is the third call of the Cooperation South Africa (NRF)-The Netherlands programme. For this call, consortia of research institutes and other organisations (both public and private) in the Netherlands and in South Africa can apply for funding of joint research projects that focus on integrating health approaches and the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the risks and limits of globalisation, sector-based approaches and linear thinking. The lingering problems underline the urgency to better address intricate trade-offs between health, economic, social, and national goals. With this call, NWO and the NRF intend to support research that analyses the systemic, cascading or cross-sectoral impacts of pandemics on the WEF nexus, as well as research that contributes to sustainable transformations that integrate relevant health aspects. The WEF nexus is a global, regional and national challenge that cannot be solved by one country alone.

Research Partners from African countries that are a Member of the SGCI

For this call, NWO and the NRF have therefore agreed to extend the bilateral programme and include other countries in the region in order to link expertise across geographic boundaries, allowing researchers to apply interventions with multiple populations simultaneously and enhancing regional network building. Therefore, the South African and Dutch researchers are hereby encouraged to include research partners from any of the 16 African countries whose ministries and granting councils are a participating member in the Science Granting Councils Initiative, SGCI.

What Else is New?

Another new aspect of this third NRF-NWO call is that the Dutch main applicant can also be from one of the following organisations: universities of applied sciences, TO2 organisations and IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. Details on the specific criteria can be found in the call for proposals.


The timeline is as follows:

  1. A ‘research initiative’ (not mandatory) can be submitted. These research ideas will be made public to encourage further collaboration and to offer the opportunity to merge consortia in case similar research ideas are submitted. A virtual matchmaking event will be organised on the third of February 2022.
  2. A pre-proposal is compulsory and will be assessed by an assessment committee. The deadline for the pre-proposal, to be submitted to NWO by the Dutch main applicant, is the first of March 2022 (14:00:00 hours CET).
  3. Selected pre-proposals can be developed into full proposals and will be evaluated by expert reviewers and an International Advisory Committee (IAC). A webinar will be organised on the 16th of June for selected applicants before the deadline. Full proposals must be submitted to NWO and NRF on 29th September 2022 (14:00:00 hours CEST for NWO; 23:59:59 hours SAST for NRF).

Cooperation South Africa-The Netherlands

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa support a long-term scientific collaboration. Currently, the collaboration focuses on the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus. By issuing calls for proposals regularly and by inviting consortia in which researchers from knowledge institutions work together with societal partners from public, semi-public and private organisations, NWO and NRF strive to provide effective contributions to support transformations towards sustainability and gradually expand the knowledge base on the WEF nexus field. Two earlier calls for proposals have resulted in the awarding of four projects in total.

Merian Fund

This programme falls under the Merian Fund. This is a fund for international cooperation with important science countries, with a focus on further stimulating joint, impact-oriented research. The common thread within the Merian Fund is international research to promote the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals worldwide.

The Merian Fund cooperates with seven partners in five countries: FAPESP (Brazil), NSFC and CAS (China), DST and DBT (India), RISTEKBRIN (Indonesia) and the NRF (South Africa). NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development is responsible for the implementation of the calls under the Merian Fund.


Further Information

This article was first published on 30 November, 2021 on the NWO website.

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