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Malawi, 26 March 2012: UNICEF committed to working with local suppliers

© UNICEF Malawi/2012
UNICEF meeting with manufacturers and suppliers in Lilongwe.

LILONGWE, Malawi, 26 March 2012 – Against a backdrop of an economic downturn and shortages of key commodities in Malawi, UNICEF has confirmed its intention to continue sourcing goods and services as much as possible from local suppliers. In meetings with manufacturers and suppliers in Lilongwe and Blantyre held last month, UNICEF representatives stressed the commitment of the organization to support the creation of local employment, thus contributing to Malawi’s social and economic development. Where possible, UNICEF will also assist local companies to pre-qualify and compete for tenders from other UNICEF offices across the region.

“UNICEF and the Government of Malawi have just engaged in a new Country Programme cycle which began in January 2012 and will end in December 2016. The overall goal of this new Programme is to support national efforts to progressively realize children’s and women’s rights through improved child survival, development, protection and participation. The procurement and supply of goods and services are a key component which will contribute to achieving these goals”, UNICEF Representative Carrie Auer explains.

In the first year of the country programme, UNICEF will require approximately $14m worth of goods and services from its $50m budget. An additional $33m will also be available as extra-budgetary support for the procurement of emergency drugs with support from the governments of the UK, Germany, and Norway.

Malawi is facing a critical foreign exchange problem that has resulted in a shortage of key commodities like fuel, drugs and other essential items. This shortage means that the country cannot import goods from the external market. Companies that rely on foreign supplies have had to lay off staff, leaving women, children and young people vulnerable.

The objective of the meetings was to explain UNICEF’s purchasing processes and regulations to suppliers and to share information about future procurement plans and developments that will affect UNICEF’s procurement processes and systems. The UNICEF team comprised the Chief of Operations in Malawi Pamela Oganga, the Supply Advisor in the Regional Office Suvi Rautio, and the UNICEF Malawi Supply Specialist, Jon Blasco. More than 230 participants representing 145 companies attended, drawn from suppliers of imported goods, local manufacturers of a wide variety of products, printing companies, building contractors, borehole drilling contractors, and service providers.

“The main theme of our message was that suppliers are an important partner to UNICEF in our efforts to improve the lives of children in Malawi,” said Ms. Oganga. “We wanted them to know us better in terms of how we operate, our procurement procedures, and what is and is not acceptable practice to us. It is important for potential partners to understand UNICEF’s rules and regulations, which are very clear and transparent.”

Participants appreciated UNICEF’s initiative to call for the meetings, pointing out that these were the first such meetings they had ever attended and they had helped them to better understand the way UNICEF operates.

A supplier of Plumpy Nut, a key therapeutic food for the treatment of malnutrition, Alima Kagaso described the meeting as a step in the right direction.

“This was the first time for UNICEF to take time out and ensure that all its suppliers have the same information. This shows that UNICEF is a credible organization and that takes its work seriously,” she said. “I request UNICEF to ensure that the meetings become an annual event.”

Ms. Pamela Oganga, UNICEF’s Chief of Operations in Malawi says the meetings were one small but important step in the process of strengthening UNICEF’s collaboration with local suppliers.

“Ultimately this will help us maximize the amount of supplies and services sourced locally, and in that way also support the local industry which at the end of the day, will be a critical player in Malawi's present and future,” she said.



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