UNICEF’s construction teams deliver value to partner countries
Supply Division supports UNICEF’s global construction initiatives in professionalizing personnel and innovate and standardize high quality construction approaches.
UNICEF is dedicated to improving the lives of children around the world. We support our programmes for children with the construction of schools, water and sanitation facilities, health clinics and much more. UNICEF is placing greater emphasis on building infrastructure for children through, for example, an almost 50 per cent increase in the total value of construction contracts between 2018 and 2021.
Supply Division (SD) provides technical and normative support to UNICEF country offices undertaking construction projects in programme countries. The SD construction team has developed project management toolkits, normative procedures, technical guidance and standard contracts to support country offices. Among these are the construction contract templates, technical guidance for modular construction as well as how-to documentation for increasing accessibility of UNICEF-built structures.
SD’s construction team includes engineers, architects and contracting experts, all with considerable experience working in and with UNICEF’s partner countries.
“With my background in civil engineering, my role provides the opportunity to contribute to UNICEF’s mission by working with our country office teams. Together, we plan and build infrastructure that makes a difference for children.”
UNICEF has long supported the construction of schools, shelters and other essential structures especially during and in the aftermath of emergencies. More recently, UNICEF has been supporting countries in building more sophisticated structures, such as large warehouses for immunization programmes and seawater desalination plants. SD is actively helping UNICEF’s country office teams to plan and manage these complex construction projects.
Enhanced contracts for improved construction management
UNICEF-supported construction projects have become increasingly complex and, more frequently they require multiyear contracting of engineering and construction resources to plan, manage and build. Standard contracting mechanisms needed to be revised to align with current market practices and take into consideration the financial and other risks associated with large investments from donors and projects with extended completion timelines. SD, in collaboration with UNICEF’s Legal Office, developed new construction contract templates to create consistency across all construction-related contracts. Enhanced contracting templates help country offices to identify and mitigate risks early in the project design phase and reinforce transparency and accountability in the contracting process.
“The development of the enhanced contracts was the result of collaboration amongst experts from across UNICEF to support of our country office construction professionals. These tools standardize how we contract construction works and services worldwide and reduce risks to UNICEF and its donor partners who finance these complex projects,” explains Carlos de la Espriella, Supply Division’s construction team lead.
Empowering UNICEF country offices with construction planning and quality assurance
SD maintains a library of tools, webinars, and guidance for country offices to plan and oversee construction. The standardization of project management resources creates efficiencies and cost savings and increases the quality and scalability of UNICEF construction support to programme countries.
Resource highlight – the Construction Project Management Toolkit
UNICEF’s new Construction Project Management Toolkit allows country offices to manage, control, and monitor construction projects and keep stakeholders informed of progress. It helps UNICEF engineers to identify problems during the early stages of construction design and implementation and proposes solutions to manage even the most complex projects.
The Toolkit, organized by project cycle, enables country offices to document activities and ensures project continuity when staff turnover occurs. It also serves as the official record of the project and its progress, should these ever be required for legal or other reasons. Templates for on-site supervision and quality assurance can be shared with UNICEF implementing partners and contracted engineering firms.
In conflict-affected Yemen, UNICEF maintains an extensive construction portfolio to rebuild the country’s infrastructure for children. In 2019, SD’s construction team worked closely with the Yemen Country Office to rehabilitate large-scale damaged and destroyed structures. The construction experts managed logistics and supplier contracting for the portfolio and used the Project Management Toolkit to streamline efforts and track the projects effectively and efficiently.
“The support and Project Management Toolkit provided by Supply Division were invaluable. We used the Toolkit’s standardized approach in a multitude of construction projects. As a result, UNICEF strengthened the quality of the work we deliver for the people of Yemen.”, says Ahmad Al-Tashi, Construction Specialist, UNICEF Yemen.
Building capacity and expertise of UNICEF’s global construction professionals
UNICEF is committed to professionalism in the construction process by recruiting, developing and retaining its talent pool. A project can be a complex multi-stakeholder venture and UNICEF construction professionals have a crucial role in convening stakeholders and teams, designing infrastructure and overseeing implementation.
SD support to country offices includes the delivery of in-person workshops and capacity-building events to roll out improved standardized tools, contracts and regulatory frameworks. UNICEF construction teams around the world benefit from web-based training, seminars and self-paced learning resources. These opportunities support staff in continuous learning and increase their knowledge and skills in, for example, safety and security practices in WASH and other programme-specific construction.