Cooperation South Africa-The Netherlands

Please note deadline shifts: The deadline for rounds whose pre-registration deadline has already passed, and for which detailed applications need to be submitted, will be extended by two months (the closing date shown opposite).

NWO’s policy towards funding and the impact of the coronavirus

As a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus, NWO has drafted a guideline to provide applicants with clarity. NWO takes into consideration that under these circumstances it is not always possible that all candidates have an equal opportunity to submit their applications and it is important that we are confident when evaluating applications that we are doing so correctly.

Please note deadline shifts: The deadline for rounds whose pre-registration deadline has already passed, and for which detailed applications need to be submitted, will be extended by two months.

For more information about measures for which no deadlines have passed yet – ongoing rounds - , and updates on this temporary guideline go to


NWO and the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF) aim to finance and strengthen scientific collaboration between the Netherlands and South Africa. 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 the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus.


The objective of this call is to integrate application-oriented solutions across the WEF nexus, to develop practical innovations and support decision- and policymakers towards sustainable planning and practices, strategies and policies. These proactive solutions target balancing trade-offs and amplifying synergies between the food, water, and energy sectors while simultaneously preserving the environment.

WEF nexus research should follow these objectives:

  1. Address challenges related to the WEF Nexus in the context of a specific region, province or local municipality in South Africa. The chosen regional, provincial or local context should be suitable to work as showcase and provide transferable knowledge to other settings.
  2. Build upon existing or develop new analytical tools to assess resource performance and create a WEF nexus database or information system for South Africa.
  3. Translate research to inform policies in developing options for integrated sustainable resource management, planning and governance.

Who can apply

Applications can be submitted by consortia consisting of the following:

  • A Dutch Principal Investigator, who will submit the application to NWO;
  • A South African Principal Investigator, who will submit the application to NRF;
  • A societal partner, such as a local or municipal government or NGO, or a partner from industry;

Your consortium may include additional applicants. However, it must include the above applicants in order to be eligible.

For more information on the conditions with regards to who can apply, please see section 3.1 of the Call for Proposals. All consortium partners, as well as relevant stakeholders, are expected to be engaged in all phases of the project execution, from its inception to sharing the (emerging) results.

What to apply for

Consortia can apply for funds for a project with a maximum duration of three years. A maximum of 700,000 euros can be applied for from NWO. A maximum of 399 000 euros (i.e. R6.3 mil) can be applied for from the NRF (not more than 133 000 euros, i.e. R2.1 mil per annum). The total combined budget for this Call is €2,047,000. With the available total budget, NWO and NRF aim to fund two projects.

Different costs can be reimbursed from the NRF and NWO grants. The application form allows you to specify which organisation you would like to cover a certain cost. The annexes to the Call for Proposals describe which costs can be covered by each grant.

The NWO part of the budget is built up using the NWO-wide standardised building blocks, the so-called modules. In the proposal budget, applicants choose which combination of modules are needed to answer the research question and how often each module will be deployed. 

When to apply

  • The deadline for full applications was 26 September 2019, 14:00 CEST/24:00 SAST. Proposals must be submitted to both NWO and NRF, by the Dutch and South African Principal Investigator respectively. 
  • A Letter of Intent should be submitted by 29th August 2019, 14:00 CEST, to



Applications will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  1. Quality of the research proposal
  2. Quality of the consortium
  3. Potential scientific and/or societal breakthrough

The criteria carry equal weight and each count for one-third of the final assessment. For the further breakdown of the criteria, please see section 4.2 of the Call for Proposals.


The assessment procedure will be conducted via the Dutch application system, ISAAC. All correspondence regarding input during the assessment procedure will therefore be sent to the Dutch Principal Investigator.

After the application has been found eligible, it will be submitted to external experts (reviewers) for consultation. The reports submitted by these reviewers will be made available to the consortium, via the Dutch Principal Investigator, for response. 

The application, reviewer reports, and the consortium's response will then be submitted to an International Advisory Committee (IAC) for evaluation. NWO and NRF will jointly compose the IAC, with experts on the subject of the Call. The IAC will assess all applications in competition, according to the criteria specified in the Call for Proposals, and formulate a funding advice. The NWO-WOTRO Steering Committee and the NRF RISA Executives will take a provisional decision based on the advice of the IAC regarding the applications to be awarded. The decision is final when both organisations have reached the same decision. 

More information

A webinar on the Theory of Change and Impact Pathway approach was held on 13th August 2019 at 14:00 CEST. In this webinar, more information was given regarding this approach, and the call secretariat answered questions from applicants. You can watch a recording of the webinar here:

South African researchers can contact contact Teuns Phahlamohlaka (+27 12 481 4385 or in case of questions).

Dutch researchers with questions can contact  Jacomijn Verbruggen-Zoutewelle (+31 (0)70 3440972). 

Questions can also be sent via email to



Temporarily closed for application


26 September 2019 14:00

Grant type

Cooperation and Exchange


1.4 Million euros

Science area

NWO-wide Social Sciences and Humanities WOTRO Science for Global Development Applied and Engineering Sciences Exact and Natural Sciences


Merian Fund


International collaboration (2015-2018)


National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa, Teuns Phahlamohlaka


Jacomijn Verbruggen-Zoutewelle, MSc Jacomijn Verbruggen-Zoutewelle, MSc +31 (0)70 3440972