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Call document: Evidence building for policy action on non-communicable disease prevention

Call for Expressions of Interest

Building evidence for policy action for non-communicable disease prevention through the Global Regulatory & Fiscal Capacity Building Programme

This Programme aims to build individual and institutional capacity and support positive enabling environments that promote healthy diets and active living through evidence-informed, cost-effective, coherent, and equitable public policies and government interventions.

Deadline to apply: 14 June 2019 (11:30 PM EDT)


Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of mortality in the world, with 85% of deaths, and mostly premature deaths (before the age of 70 years), occurring in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The risk of premature death between the ages of 30 and 70 years from any of the four main NCDs currently ranges from 8% in high-income countries to 36% in low-income countries, causing 15 million avoidable (premature) deaths per year, including twelve million in low- and middle-income countries.  Moreover, the threat that NCDs pose to health and wellbeing is differently spread across gender groups. Globally, two out of every three women die from an NCD, and almost everywhere, women are more obese than men. However, men have a higher prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and death from it than women.  Driving this escalation of burden and needless loss of life is the persistent exposure to the leading modifiable risk factors for NCDs – tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, and harmful use of alcohol - often coupled with other health conditions, including mental health and those related to reproductive, maternal, child, and adolescent health.

In response to the rising burden of NCDs, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs in 2011. Member States committed to reducing risk factors and creating health-promoting environments as well as strengthening international cooperation in support of national, regional and global plans through the exchange of best practices in the areas of health promotion, legislation, regulation and health system strengthening. Since the UNGA Declaration, several global strategies, action plans and declarations have emerged as part of a concerted response by the international community. These include the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020 (Global NCD Action Plan); The 2014 Rome Declaration on Nutrition; and the 2018 Global Action Plan on Physical Activity, among others.


The global declarations and strategies mentioned above all reinforce the need for countries to accelerate implementation of the WHO NCD ‘Best Buys’ and other regulatory and fiscal measures, particularly in the areas of diet and physical activity. The regulatory and fiscal measures include taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), WHO Set of Recommendations on the Marketing of Foods and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children, nutrition labelling including front-of-pack labelling, and reformulation of products to contain less salt, sugars and fats. Policy measures also exist that promote or enable increased physical activity or use of active transport. 

However, the progress of implementation in these policy areas is slow and uneven according to the WHO Noncommunicable Diseases Progress Monitor Report 2017 and the 2nd WHO Global Nutrition Policy Review 2016-2017. One of the main bottlenecks identified of these shortcomings is the lack of regulatory and fiscal capacity to address NCD risk factors, in particular, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.

To support meaningful and sustainable progress towards these global commitments and to address the above bottlenecks, the Global Regulatory & Fiscal Capacity Building Programme (Global RECAP) was conceptualised. This program aims to build individual and institutional capacity and support positive enabling environments that promote healthy diets and active living through evidence-informed, cost-effective, coherent, and equitable public policies and government interventions.

Global RECAP is a multi-agency partnership between Canada’s International Development Research Centre, IDRC ( ; the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, SDC ( ; the OPEC Fund for International Development, OFID ( ;  the International Development Law Organization, IDLO ( and the World Health Organization, WHO (  


The goal of Global RECAP is to strengthen the effectiveness, uptake, and sustainability of public health policies through policy-relevant and locally-grounded NCD research. Research funded through this call will support the evidence needs of policy-makers in LMICs and will strengthen national, regional, and global dialogues, particularly through the engagement and empowerment of civil society actors critical for social mobilization.

IDRC’s role in the partnership is aimed at building and using evidence that will complement the Global RECAP program activities undertaken by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and World Health Organization (WHO) with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). This Call for Expressions of Interest is targeted to the five countries selected for the Global RECAP program, which are: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Specific Objectives

Objective 1: to generate robust and locally relevant scientific evidence for the design, implementation and monitoring of fiscal and regulatory interventions, which can promote healthy diets.

Objective 2: to position this research for influence by supporting the implementation of creative and locally grounded fiscal and regulatory solutions that take into account and leverage political, social, cultural, and economic environments to promote healthy diets. 

Objective 3:  to engage and empower civil society actors, particularly think tanks, to strengthen the uptake, effectiveness, and sustainability of public health policies through policy engagement, knowledge sharing, and collaboration.

Research Topics

Through this Call for Expressions of Interest, IDRC is seeking to identify institutions in LMICs with the capacity to collaborate with other stakeholders, including in-country researchers, think tanks, policy actors and lawyers to prioritise evidence needs and conduct research to meet those needs. The areas of focus include:

NCD Prevention Research

  1. Research on effective regulatory and fiscal measures that can promote healthy diets and contribute to NCD prevention.
  2. Research on incentives, structures, processes and governance arrangements that allow collaborative development of evidence-driven, ethical measures across health and non-health sectors.
  3. Research on monitoring, evaluation and accountability tools that can be used by government and civil society to address upstream drivers of NCD trends or to assess the real-time and continuous impact of regulatory and fiscal measures, especially for groups vulnerable to NCDs.

Policy Studies

  1. Strengthen existing in-country assessments of policies, policy development mechanisms and the ecosystem of policy actors (including policy makers, regulatory bodies, lawyers, public health and nutrition experts, civil society actors and communities), to further inform the design and implementation of policies that impact healthy diets.
  2. Identify the needs of local policy actors (such as evidence-based policy recommendations, technical capacity for implementation, monitoring and accountability mechanisms), and relevant means of support to catalyse and encourage multisectoral engagement to address NCDs through healthy diets and physical activity.
  3. Contribute evidence to whole-of-government policy discussions.

Expressions of Interest may target one or more of the above thematic areas with the amount of eligible funding in proportion to the scale and scope of proposed activities. Research activities should aim to inform policy debates and policy development, engage with and stimulate demand from policy actors, and communicate research results effectively and in appropriate formats. Eligible and successful Expressions of Interest will be selected and invited by IDRC to be developed into full research projects through a multi-stage proposal development process to allow for a focusing of ideas relevant to the RECAP objectives and to national and regional needs, and to promote collaboration and synergy amongst RECAP activities.

Cross-Cutting Themes

IDRC encourages research ideas that are founded on social and gender equity, cultural sensitivity, economic viability, and environmental sustainability. Ideas in Expressions of Interest must be designed and/or implemented as much as possible in ways that are accessible and affordable to all, meet the needs of women and girls in LMICs, encourage consumption of healthy local foods, account for culinary traditions, and protect the natural environment and resources in the long term. Research is also sought that is specifically focused on gender equity dimensions of regulatory and fiscal measures for promoting healthy diets.

Out of scope

To maintain a strategic and focused approach, we note that the following types of projects are outside the scope of this Call:

  • purely descriptive research on diet-related NCD problems;
  • purely clinical, epidemiological or observational studies;
  • projects solely focused on education, social marketing, and/or individual behaviour change;
  • product development, enrichment, fortification, or reformulation of individual food commodities;
  • projects solely focused on improving food production, quantity, and/or access;
  • projects solely focused on food safety.  

Eligibility criteria

This Call seeks Expressions of Interest from research organizations, think thanks, and organizations with a primary mission and mandate to inform public policy through relevant and timely research, that are based in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Lead applicant organizations must have legal corporate registration in an LMIC. Such organizations must also be eligible to conduct research in any one of Global RECAP’s five focus countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. However, lead applicant organisations do not necessarily have to be primarily based in any of these countries.

Lead applicant organisation must have independent legal status (or “legal personality”) and the ability to receive and administer foreign funds (capable of contracting in their own right and name) in their respective countries and should have been established for at least two financial years. They should also demonstrate substantive history conducting a range of cross-cutting social and economic research relevant to the goals of the RECAP program.

International organizations are eligible to apply as co-applicant organizations (developing country collaborators), provided that they have regional chapters or offices with appropriate legal status to operate and manage funds in the eligible countries where the research will take place.


The budget for EOI ideas is expected to be between the range of $100,000 – 500,000 CAD to cover a project duration of no more than 36 months. Proposed budgets should be justified with respect to the size and scope of activities. Larger projects will be expected to provide a strong rationale that justifies a larger budget (such as addressing multiple thematic areas and/or involving a multi-country or multi-institutional collaboration).

Applying to the Call for Expressions of Interest

Interested organisations should submit an Expression of Interest with supporting documents based on the criteria above, by email to the following account: with the subject title “Submission: Global RECAP” by 11.30 PM EDT on 14/06/2019. Applications must be submitted in English or French and limited to three pages. Please note that we are unable to provide feedback on submitted Expressions of Interest. All enquiries should be addressed to

EOI content

Cover page

  • Project title
  • Country or countries where the research is taking place
  • Name and full address of the applicant institution
  • Name, title, work affiliation and email addresses of the principal investigator(s)
  • Total amount of funding requested and project duration

EOI content, 3 pages maximum

  • Brief problem statement
  • Objectives, as they relate to the objective of the Call for EOI
  • Methodology brief
  • Team composition and credentials
  • Dissemination strategy and anticipated outcomes
  • Estimated budget (total amount with brief notes and justification)
  • Project duration (in months)

Call timeline




Selection Process


Deadline for the submission of Expressions of Interest

14 June 2019

(11:30 PM EDT)

Shortlisted applicants notified and invited to submit full proposals


28 June 2019


An invitation to submit a full proposal is not a guarantee of funding and is subject to a successful process of project development with IDRC.