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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T015667/1
Title: Translating GeoNutrition (TGN): Reducing mineral micronutrient deficiencies (MMNDs) in Zimbabwe
Principal Investigator: Langley-Evans, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Biosciences
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Scheme: UKRI
Starts: 01 October 2019 Ends: 31 March 2021 Value (£): 813,300
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
14 Aug 2019 GCRF GRTA Panel19 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Mineral micronutrient deficiencies (MMNDs) remain a global challenge affecting the growth, development, health, and livelihoods of more than 2 billion people. MMNDs are especially prevalent in Low Income Countries of sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia. Women and children are at particular risk of MMNDs due to unequal access to nutrient-rich foods within the home. Constraints to reducing MMNDs, especially in SSA, include: (1) baseline data on the distribution of MMNDs, especially within a country; (2) national research capacity to get the information needed to provide a sound evidence base, and potential solutions, for policy makers, private sector investors, and other interested parties (citizens, donors, public health professionals).

We have built up substantial knowledge on how to approach this challenge based on ongoing research, and lessons learned, from an existing portfolio of Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF, and other ODA and institutional) funding, which seeks to, (1) reduce the impact of MMNDs by understanding local nutrition from the soil through to the person via complex food systems pathways (a 'GeoNutrition' approach), and (2) strengthen research capacity in SSA.

The work will be undertaken with partners in Zimbabwe, where >50% of the population are affected by MMNDs. The Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) plans to embed a full MMND survey in a wider health survey in 2020/21. There is therefore a window of opportunity for impact by: (1) informing the design of this GoZ survey, specifically by translating GCRF-funded 'GeoNutrition' research findings from Malawi, and (2) promoting new policy and commercialisation pathways through research capacity strengthening. This project has the highest-level support from the GoZ, including from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, and the Ministry of Higher Education. The project has been co-designed with the University of Zimbabwe (UZ).

Translating GeoNutrition Aims:

1. To co-design a national surveillance programme to establish baseline MMNDs in Zimbabwe

2. To improve institutional and individual research capacity in Zimbabwe, including to test policy interventions for alleviating MMNDs and to promote private sector engagement

Aim 1 will be delivered through activities in two (parallel) Work Packages (WPs), linking the Nutrition (WP1) and Agriculture (WP2) sectors. These can be scaled up as required.

WP1: Biomarker Survey Pilot, to support mapping of MMNDs, and to inform the design of the full MMND surveillance programme. The activity sequence includes: (i) design, (ii) area selection, (iii) data sharing, (iv) ethical approvals, (v) training and sensitisation, (vi) logistics/risk assessments, (vii) sample collection and processing (blood, urine), (viii) storage/shipping, (ix) lab. analyses, (x) data management, (xi) data analyses, (xii) communication.

WP2: Agricultural Survey, to link agriculture and nutritional policies, by mapping parts of the Food Systems which affect MMNDs, and to identify new market opportunities. Activities include those described above, with sample collection focusing on soils and crops.

Aim 2 will be delivered via WP3, which will be designed to include interim and final evaluations, within a Theory of Change. Of particular focus will be improving skills in data management, statistics, ethics, lab. analyses, finance systems, Higher Education curriculum development, and training-of-trainer (ToT) systems. An important component of research capacity strengthening is how research cultures and systems are developed; what works, for whom, when, and why, including how gender and social inclusion strategies are operationalised. Beyond the award, we shall use institute investment to co-develop a joint PhD programme between UoN and UZ, based on new UoN/Malawi models, which shall help to incentivise private sector engagement in the food, nutrition, and agri-services sectors.

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