Independent Commission for Aid Impact publishes report on DFID’s work through UNICEF

22 Mar 2013

 The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has published a report today on the Department for International Development (DFID)’s work through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). ICAI has given the work a rating of Green-Amber.

The report provides insight into the UK’s relationship with UNICEF, which is an important partner, by examining delivery of a range of aid programmes in Africa. The report recognises that UNICEF is delivering tangible benefits but that DFID needs to manage UNICEF as a strategic partner and provide greater clarity to UNICEF with regard to its role in and expectations of each programme.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner, said: “DFID has a strong relationship with UNICEF; we recommend that the department uses its influence to strengthen UNICEF’s management of programmes, with a greater focus on delivery and results.”

Over the period 2007-11, the UK Government was the second largest donor to UNICEF after the United States, contributing £690 million. The review looked at the impact and effectiveness of DFID’s partnership with UNICEF, by focussing on UNICEF’s work on the ground, implementing programmes part-funded by DFID country offices. ICAI examined a  water and sanitation programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, two complex health programmes in Sierra Leone and single-focus malaria bed net programmes in Sierra Leone and Ghana. In each case, DFID was the major donor.

The overall rating for the programmes we examined is Green-Amber. DFID trusts UNICEF to deliver programmes and achieve results in support of the Millennium Development Goals. It also relies on UNICEF to work in difficult environments, manage multiple delivery partners and carry out large-scale procurements. DFID does not manage this important relationship in a systematic manner and uses a relatively light touch with UNICEF compared to other delivery partners. Programmes are delivering results but there is evidence of delays and shortfalls, with some questionable value for money. ICAI recommends that DFID provides greater clarity to UNICEF with regard to the expectations of its role in each programme. DFID is now focussing more on results and value for money in its relationship with UNICEF, maintaining closer control where justified by budgets or risk levels and it should continue this improvement.


Notes to editors:

For further information please contact Sam Harrison on The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) is the independent body responsible for scrutinising UK aid. We focus on maximising the effectiveness of the UK aid budget for intended beneficiaries and on delivering value for money for UK taxpayers. For further details on ICAI, the workplan and for links to each report please visit

ICAI’s Chief Commissioner is Graham Ward CBE. The three other Commissioners are: Mark Foster, John Githongo and Diana Good. Their biographies can be found on the ICAI website.

These reports were prepared by ICAI with the assistance of KPMG LLP, Agulhas Applied Knowledge, Center of Evaluation for Global Action (CEGA) and the Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU International).

ICAI reports are written to be accessible to a general readership and we use a simple ‘traffic light’ system to report our judgement on each programme or topic we review, as follows:

I.          Green: The programme performs well overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Some improvements are needed.

II.         Green-Amber: The programme performs relatively well overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Improvements should be made.

III.        Amber-Red: The programme performs relatively poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Significant improvements should be made.

IV.        Red: The programme performs poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Immediate and major changes need to be made.


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