The Neys-Van Hoogstraten Foundation (NHF) started funding research on household and community food and nutrition security in Southeast Asia in the early 1990s. Since then, the context has changed considerably. Countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, where most of the NHF-funded research has been conducted, have become more prosperous. At the same time, however, the divide between the rich and the poor has grown; urbanisation and the numbers of urban poor have increased rapidly; traditional foods are competing with manufactured, unhealthy and aggressively marketed foods; poor people are struggling with the triple burden of malnutrition (the coexistence of food insecurity, undernutrition and overweight and obesity); and women increasingly participate in the labour market, also as migrant workers. These and other issues were discussed at the 4th International NHF Workshop, at Baguio, the Philippines, 12-17 April 2015.
Based on the internal reflection in the Board and on the discussions in Baguio, the NHF Board has decided to update its policy and to prioritise the following clusters of themes and approaches.
Upscaling traditional food crops
NHF intends to promote the knowledge of traditional food crops, their cultivation, processing, preparation and their potential. The crops could be staples, but could also be leafy greens or vegetables that are a source of protein and crucial micro-nutrients. Such crops may significantly contribute to sustainable food and nutrition security, in poor communities but also for people in post-disaster resettlements. In the case of staples, evidence of the potential of non-rice staple crops in areas unfit for rice cultivation could challenge the pro-rice bias of government food relief programmes.
Urban poverty and malnutrition
NHF welcomes proposals about the food and nutrition security of the urban poor. Given the conventional definitions of food and nutrition security, sub-themes could – for example – include: the impact of environmental factors (lack of access to safe water and sanitation) on health and nutrition; the significance of street foods commonly consumed by the urban poor and the safety of food handling practices of its vendors; the potential of alternative food production in urban environments (urban agriculture) for healthy, affordable and diversified diets; changing roles of primary caregivers (working or absent mothers) and nutrition of children; urban poverty and the triple burden of malnutrition.
Vulnerable communities and areas
NHF intends to strengthen the focus on vulnerable people, living in marginalized and poor communities or in remote and less developed areas. Research proposals addressing the food and nutrition security of such groups or in such areas will be prioritised.
Involving poorly endowed research institutes
NHF will extend its support for research on NHF themes to institutions and researchers who – so far – have hardly benefited from NHF support, especially those located and working in more peripheral areas and poorly endowed with resources. In reaching such institutions and researchers established institutions could help. Research projects could take the form of collaboration between well-established institutions and poorly endowed ones, to enhance the research capabilities of poorly endowed institutions.
Operational research of NGOs
NHF will place more emphasis on supporting operational research by NGOs working on enhancing food and nutrition security and well-being of poor communities and vulnerable groups in remote geographical areas.
NHF will expand collaboration with big institutions in twinning arrangements. NHF funds the costs of the field research of PhD students at distinguished universities (which may also be in Europe), provided the research addresses NHF focus themes and priorities. NHF also considers partial funding of relevant programmes of institutions such as the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam. Collaboration with such institutions could help to extend NHF research support to poor countries in Southeast Asia that so far have hardly or not featured in the NHF research portfolio, e.g. Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Eligibility for funding
Apart from the information already available on the website about the kind of research that is considered eligible for funding and the new priorities outlined above, the following needs to be taken into account by potential applicants.
The main focus remains on Southeast Asia, particularly the poorer countries and areas in the region, but also research on NHF themes in Nepal and Bangladesh can be funded.
For single projects that involve one research institution or NGO, the maximum grant amount remains € 25,000. However, in the case of ground-breaking research that involves multiple institutional actors, the Board may allocate a higher amount.
Food and nutrition problems are not gender-neutral. Proposals should reflect the applicants’ awareness of gender inequalities and of the different gender roles in the food and nutrition chain.
While the collection of reliable and robust data remains the core of good empirical research, NHF would like to receive more proposals with an innovative and promising or multidisciplinary study design or that have a plan for sophisticated data analysis (as opposed to a mere descriptive study). Such proposals will be favourably considered.
Use of the research
The Board would like NHF-supported research to make a difference, however small, to food and nutrition policies and programmes that aim at reducing malnutrition of vulnerable people. In their proposal, applicants should make explicit how they intend their research to contribute to the achievement of this aim.