UN Aid Agencies
The following UN humanitarian aid agencies are among the first responders when natural disasters, conflicts and other major emergencies occur around the world. They are also crucial to preparing for such catastrophic events. They usually implement their programs and projects directly, although some projects may be carried out under UN auspices by local civil society or government departments.
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
- World Food Programme (WFP)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
OCHA is the coordinating agency for UN humanitarian response to emergencies. It operates through a network of field offices that support UN Humanitarian Coordinators and country teams. It also maintains regional support offices and Regional Disaster Response Advisors in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
Procurement of basic non-food, non-medical emergency relief items is carried out by the Logistics Support Unit of the Emergency Services Branch of OCHA. Procurement for OCHA itself is carried out by the Purchase and Transportation Section of the Geneva UN Office. OCHA is not involved in the procurement of medical or food items, which fall under the World Health Organization and the World Food Program respectively.
The UNFPA is responsible for population issues such as promoting reproductive health and policies that limit unsustainable population growth. Its programs focus on improving access to reproductive health care, on combating violence against women and on preventing sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS.
The Procurement Services Section is the main marketing point for commonly purchased items. Suppliers of substitute technologies and specialized services should refer to UNFPA's Technical Support Division at headquarters, and to the agency's nine Country Technical Services Teams around the world.
The UNHCR provides assistance to refugees and helps them reintegrate into their home country or third countries. Most of the UNHCR's work involves ensuring a basic supply of shelter, food, water and medical care to displaced people. Its programs also help prevent HIV/AIDS among refugees, ensure that they receive education and minimize their environmental impact.
The UNHCR's Supply Management Service in Geneva looks after most of the Agency's international procurement. Given the low-technology nature of most refugees' needs, and the fast responses required for emergencies, the UNHCR tries to purchase supplies locally. It has country offices worldwide and regional supply units in Accra, Nairobi, Beijing, Islamabad and Pretoria.
UNICEF is involved in the protection of children, especially in times of crisis. It promotes girls' education, child immunization and early development, and HIV/AIDS prevention. It procures vaccines, essential medicines, anti-retrovirals, micronutrients, educational supplies, and water and sanitation equipment for local communities. It also designs programs to increase child and youth access to safe water, education, life skills and nutrition.
UNICEF's Supply Division in Copenhagen and New York carry out procurement for the Agency's programs. There are regional procurement centres in Ankara and Pretoria that acquire goods for UNICEF's work in Iraq and Southern Africa respectively. UNICEF maintains various types of country offices around the world, many of which have the authority to procure office supplies, fuel and other goods.
PAHO was established to improve health and living standards in the Americas, as well as to respond to disasters. PAHO also serves as the World Health Organization's regional office for the Americas.
PAHO's main procurement centre is the Procurement Services Unit in Washington, D.C., where most purchasing takes place. Some local procurement is also done by the agency's Field Offices, which PAHO maintains in every country of the Americas.
Read the complete PAHO market document.
The WFP provides food aid to people affected by natural disaster and conflict, and to countries with a longer-term food shortage. In many cases, food aid is delivered through integrated programs designed to achieve other objectives, such as restoring livelihoods through food-for-work programs, or ensuring that children get a proper education by providing school lunches.
Much of the WFP's food procurement is done by the Food Procurement Service. The Goods and Services Procurement Branch purchases communications equipment, vehicles, office supplies and information technology, while the Transport Division provides transportation services. WFP maintains six regional procurement offices in Africa and one in India. Its Country Offices can also procure non-food items and local logistics services.
WHO is the main UN organization for supporting global health. Its main activities include primary health care, disease eradication, immunization and health promotion. Its programs focus on capacity development, training and sustainability in health care.
The Procurement Services Division at the UN's Geneva office procures the bulk of WHO's goods and equipment, while consultants are hired through the program arms of the organization. WHO's Regional Offices, which also carry out project implementation and planning, have limited authority for regional and international procurement.