SUMERNET 4 All Call for Expression of Interest: Groundwater Integrated Regional Assessment

SUMERNET 4 All, Phase 4 of SUMERNET (2019-2023), has the mission “to improve the policies and practices in reducing water insecurity by conducting collaborative research, engaging in the policy process, and promoting scientifically sound research and innovation while considering gender and social equality, human rights, conflict sensitivity, environmental integrity and poverty reduction in the Mekong Region.”

The Groundwater Integrated Regional Assessment (GIRA) is the largest research grant under SUMERNET 4 All. The grant will be regional in nature, covering the Mekong Region countries and lasts between 2 and 2.5 years, with a value at not more than 2.0 million SEK (about 215,000 USD). The grantee will lead the Mekong regional study including five small case studies across Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam (ideally). The GIRA will deliver both locally relevant insights and regionally relevant management options addressing the questionhow can we sustainably use and manage groundwater resources while reducing water insecurity for all, especially the vulnerable groups of people, in the Mekong Region?’

EOI submission deadline: 23:59, 30th June 2019 (Bangkok local time)


Groundwater: an untapped opportunity or a ticking timebomb?

Groundwater is currently deemed underutilized and poorly understood with insufficient monitoring in the Mekong. But, with its exponentially growing demands from urbanization, agriculture and issues of contamination – proper management must occur now to sustainably use groundwater resources while reducing water insecurity for the Mekong Region.

SUMERNET recognizes that there is more than a knowledge gap – there is a policy and practice gap on the sustainable use and management of groundwater in the Mekong Region. This call is inviting proponents to express the interest in leading the GIRA that addresses the challenge: how can we sustainably use and manage groundwater resources while reducing water insecurity for all, especially the vulnerable groups of people, in the Mekong Region?

The GIRA will need to take into account the issues related to gender and social equality, human right based approach, conflict sensitivity, governance and poverty reduction.

Expected outcomes will include at least three of the following:

  • Enhanced knowledge, attitude, and skills of the boundary partners who are knowledge producers so that they can deliver credible, gender inclusive, human rights-based, conflict sensitive, and poverty-focused integrated regional assessment on sustainable groundwater management to reduce water insecurity for all especially the vulnerable groups of people.
  • Improved understanding of policy influencers (e.g., media, CSOs, think tanks etc.) on water insecurity in the region especially for the vulnerable groups by providing them with credible knowledge on this topic so that they can advocate for the GIRA’s findings in influencing critical policy and practice related to groundwater management.
  • Changes in practice of the policy makers or practitioners at subnational, national and regional levels on the ways they develop policies, strategies, plans and programs related to groundwater management to reduce water insecurity for all especially the vulnerable groups considering the GIRA’s findings.
  • Policies, strategies, plans or programs to address water insecurity and poverty in the Mekong Region informed by the GIRA’s findings considering the principles of human rights, conflict sensitivity, gender inclusivity, and sustainability.

The expected outcomes will be finalised during inception phase. The GIRA is encouraged to engage with the boundary partners as part of the GIRA team to help deliver the expected outcomes.  

Outputs will include:

  • Method to collaboratively deliver the SUMERNET Groundwater Integrated Regional Assessment involving key stakeholders and delivering all case studies in different countries. Including:
    • Consideration of gender and social equality, human right based approach/social justice, conflict sensitivity, governance and poverty reduction are considered part of the research
    • Engagement with women’s organizations and vulnerable groups
    • Clear policy impact pathways
  • Ideally GIRA should include five case studies. This can be adjusted if necessary. Final number and locations of case studies will be agreed during project inception period. 
  • At least three peer review articles, 2 policy briefs and three communication products (e.g. blog, vlog, news article, short film) from the GIRA. At least one policy brief will be prepared to directly inform relevant policies, strategies or plans related to groundwater management for reducing water insecurity for all at regional level in the Mekong Region.

Granting process

There are three stages to research granting process.

  1. Expression of Interest (EOI): Applicants must first submit an expression of interest (EOI) (see below for details). The EOI will be reviewed by SUMERNET advisors, SUMERNET Secretariat and other concerned regional experts and approved by the SUMERNET Steering Committee. Online submission link:
  2. Inception phase: One or more could be shortlisted from the EOI submissions. At least the team leader and another member from each shortlisted team will attend the full proposal development workshop (tentatively planned during August 2019 in Bangkok) to ensure they understand SUMERNET’s requirements, standards, such as ethics, academic freedom, equity etc. The complete draft proposal(s) from shortlisted team (s) will be submitted to the SUMERNET Secretariat by end of September 2019. Only one team with draft proposal that fit SUMERNET’s expectations most will be selected and provided with inception funding to finalise the full proposal based on consultations with key stakeholders and discussion and development with the SUMERNET team.
  3. Full proposal: The final version of full proposal is due end of 2019 and will be reviewed by a proposal reviewing committee consisting of the SUMERNET advisors, Secretariat and other regional experts in relevant files. Once the full proposal meets the expectations of the reviewing committees will be funded after an approval by the SUMERNET Steering Committee resulting in contractual signing and full funding.

Selection criteria 

Below include the selection criteria for reviewing process. More details for each category can be found in the EOI template (attached).  
  • Technical competency 
  • Management competency
  • Proposed research questions, methodology including tools for this assignment 
  • Proposed budget and in-kind contribution 


Submission of Expression of Interest 

Online submission and deadlines: 
All submissions are to be sent online by the deadline of 23:59, 30th June 2019 (Bangkok local time) to online submission link: Email entries will not be accepted.
Any issues contact Mr. Agus Nugroho and Ms. Unchulee Lualon at the SUMERNET Secretariat (

Required documents: 

  • Completed EOI in required format (Font: Times News Roman 11, Max. 6 pages only). See the attached EOI template (attached). 
  • Short CVs (not more than three pages/person) of the Team Leader and not more than four key persons of the team including at least one female that will play important role in the team. 
  • 3 sample publications relevant to this assignment that the Team Leader or team members served as the lead or co-authors.  
  • Factsheets of not more than three projects relevant to this assignment (not more than two pages/project).

Full and detailed call for EOI is also attached with this announcement.