Strong supply chains deliver better results for children and their families, and will support the realisation of their rights to health, education, nutrition and protection wherever they may live.

Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of UNICEF’s large supply chain network requires working on internal and external processes and procedures, and strengthening our interactions with the wide range of partners we collaborate with every day.

Internally, UNICEF is introducing new tools, approaches and technical capacities to optimise the supply chain activities we manage. Performance objectives such as reduced stock-outs, lower transport costs and timely delivery have been established and are monitored on a regular basis.

Externally, we are helping strengthen national supply chains in partnership with governments and other stakeholders. Together, we are optimising global supply chains by improving key interfaces and dependencies based on analysis and evidence. Building a professional network of supply chain professionals is also critical to these achievements.

The aim of this site is to share the essential work around supply chain activities performed by UNICEF and various partners to ensure vital supplies reach children.

We encourage you to share your thoughts, comments and ideas with us on supply chain stories of interest.

UNICEF and partners

The site seeks to achieve knowledge sharing between UNICEF, governments, partners and indeed any organization that is working to improve supply chains for essential supplies for children – both globally and locally.

Optimising supply chains for children

UNICEF’s efforts related to overall supply chain improvement are managed through three strategic components: optimising UNICEF’s supply chains; strengthening and optimising key supply chains with governments, partners and UNICEF; and capacity development of national supply chain systems. Cross-cutting all three components is the professional development of supply chain staff in all organizations delivering essential supplies for children. 

These strategies are described below:

Optimising UNICEF supply chains aims to improve performance and efficiencies, and to help achieve programmatic results. Such optimisation targets key segments of the supply chain and ensures focus on their interfaces - including with UNICEF Country Offices and suppliers. This includes the introduction of new tools, approaches and technical capacities - to generate efficiency gains and cost reduction, while at the same time ensuring due diligence and appropriate risk mitigation within our internal operational processes.

Strengthening and Optimising key supply chains with governments aims to reduce costs, stock-outs and/or wastage, improve performance, and help achieve results.  These types of project are defined as those which have a specific target area including a whole supply chain, for example vaccine or nutrition; or a targeted component of a supply chain improvement (e.g. barcodes for vaccine monitoring). Supply chain strengthening projects are more targeted in terms of performance improvement, and usually would be of a shorter duration. In addition to governments and UNICEF, the strengthening and optimisation will likely involve suppliers, freight forwarders, implementing partners, UNICEF Offices and potentially funders. The learning from such joint activities should be shared and applied or adapted to similar contexts.

Capacity development aims at supporting the development of national supply chain systems through the sharing of know-how and south-south learning. The strategy is built around multi-year projects that consider the broader system and enabling environment, focus on sustainability and national ownership of supply chain systems development and involve a handover or exit strategy.

Professional Development of supply chain staff. A network of supply chain professionals with both broad and highly specialised expertise needs to be nurtured and developed if overall supply chain improvements are to be fully realised and sustained. While UNICEF invests heavily in the ongoing professional development of its own supply community, the Organization is also committed to supporting partners and governments in the professional development of their supply chain workforce. This includes making UNICEF supply related syllabus and training content available to others, leveraging the expertise of our global partner network, convening practitioners for the purpose of learning and dialogue, and facilitating the sharing of this expertise between government partners as a south- south knowledge exchange. Although supply chains vary according to the commodity group, the main segments of each supply chain are described below: