UNICEF sets a $7.1 billion procurement record despite severe global supply chain disruptions

2021 saw UNICEF accelerating progress towards the goal of equitable access to life-saving supplies, supported by inspired partnerships and long-standing expertise in procurement and logistics.

14 June 2022
Logistic workers unload the early childhood development kits for emergency relief from UNICEF from a truck for handover in a warehouse yard in Vietnam.
UNICEF/UN)453855/Linh Pham/AFP-Services

NEW YORK/COPENHAGEN, 14 June 2022 – UNICEF has announced record-setting results in procurement and delivery for 2021. The total value of UNICEF-procured supplies and services reached more than $7.1 billion – a 61 per cent increase compared to 2020.

Much of this procurement increase reflects UNICEF’s role in the global COVID-19 pandemic response, including as of one of the key delivery partners in the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX). UNICEF managed the delivery of more than 884 million vaccine doses for COVAX, and other initiatives, to 110 countries. Beyond COVID-19, UNICEF procured 2.3 billion doses of routine vaccines to protect children against diarrhoea, measles, pneumonia, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis and other potentially deadly but preventable diseases. In total, some 3.2 billion vaccine doses (both routine and COVID-19) were shipped in 2021.

As the largest vaccine buyer in the world, the organization was uniquely placed to step into an urgently needed role in the COVID-19 pandemic response, managing huge volumes of donated vaccines, as well as procuring and shipping vast quantities of supplies, including vaccines, syringes, diagnostic tests, therapeutics and personal protective equipment (PPE). UNICEF delivered 12.4 million COVID-19 diagnostic tests, 434.1 million items of PPE as well as 17.3 million units of the therapeutic drug dexamethasone and 21,000 oxygen concentrators. 52,800 units of cold chain equipment were shipped, representing an increase of 92% on the previous year.

UNICEF’s complex supply operations maintained uninterrupted support for programmes for vulnerable children and communities all over the world. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to humanitarian emergencies in countries, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti and Yemen continued despite global supply chain disruptions, container shortages, port logjams, and increasing freight costs, which had to be overcome to ensure the arrival of vaccines, medicines, and other life-saving essential items.

Partnerships and commercial agreements with the supply chain and transport industry were the cornerstone of UNICEF’s ability to rise to the logistics challenge. A landmark charter signed by UNICEF in late 2020 between the World Economic Forum and 18 shipping, airline, and logistics companies, came to fruition in 2021 alongside the Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative with key airlines. These crucial agreements ensured the prioritization of UNICEF’s deliveries for the COVID-19 response and other emergencies in the face of unprecedented challenges with supply and logistics.

“UNICEF’s exceptional achievement in procurement and delivery in 2021 was possible thanks to the solidarity that has been forged between UNICEF, industry and other humanitarian partners,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Together, we overcame huge hurdles and kept critical supply chains moving to provide vulnerable children and their families with essential supplies.”

Decades of experience scaling up to respond to emergencies enabled UNICEF to deploy procurement and logistics expertise to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Resources provided at speed by donor governments and partners were swiftly channelled to where they were most needed, and UNICEF’s worldwide network of country offices was leveraged to the full to deliver life-saving supplies. UNICEF also strived to uphold its high standards of transparency, publishing the latest developments of the COVID-19 global vaccine market and deliveries on the COVID-19 Vaccine Market Dashboard.

“Along with governments, donors, partners, and industry, we believe that ensuring equitable access must be a priority. In 2021, we saw that belief in action,” said Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division, Etleva Kadilli. “We will continue working together to strengthen supply chains that will be agile and resilient for future generations.”   

2021 UNICEF procurement and delivery highlights

  • Total procurement in supplies: $5.7 billion
  • Total procurement in services: $1.5 billion
  • Procurement in emergency supplies: $687.5 million for 139 countries and areas.
  • Procurement services on behalf of governments and partners: $3.9 billion for 138 countries, including $2.3 billion on behalf of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Procurement value of major commodity groups

  • Vaccines and biologicals: $4.1 billion
  • Medical supplies and equipment (e.g., syringes, diagnostic tests, PPE, medical kits): $397.5 million
  • Cold chain equipment (including solar-powered refrigeration systems): $204.9 million
  • Nutrition supplies (e.g., ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), vitamin A, nutrition kits): $175.6 million
  • Education supplies (including education kits): $155.3 million
  • Water and sanitation supplies (e.g., water purification tablets, hygiene kits): $145.4 million
  • Pharmaceuticals (e.g., amoxicillin, antiretrovirals, malaria treatments, oral rehydration salts (ORS)): $99.1 million
  • Bednets/insecticides: $81.5 million

Major service groups

  • Construction services: $257.1 million 
  • International freight: $226.3 million
  • Local technical workforce for programme execution: $184.1 million
  • Cash and Voucher Assistance: $173 million
  • Research, surveys, monitoring and evaluation services: $118.5 million 
  • In-country logistics and warehousing services: $91.4 million

Explore the UNICEF Supply Division Annual Report 2021


Media contacts

Stephanie Brickman
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Supply Division
Tel: +45 51 19 68 10

About UNICEF Supply Division

UNICEF's supply and logistics headquarters - Supply Division - is located in Copenhagen, which is also home to the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world.

Supplies are essential to fulfil children’s rights. Supporting child survival and development programmes around the world, UNICEF-procured supplies are critical in providing for children’s health, education and protecting them from abuse, exploitation, and neglect.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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