DFID’s work through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Over the period 2007-11, the UK government was the second largest donor to UNICEF, contributing £690 million. The review looks at the impact and effectiveness of DFID’s partnership with UNICEF.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 22 March 2013
  3. Type: Other
  4. Subject: Multilateral spend
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Sierra Leone
  7. Lead commissioner: Mark Foster

Read the report


Our review found the Department for International Development (DFID) does not manage its relationship with UNICEF in a systematic manner and needs to provide greater clarity to UNICEF with regard to the expectations of its role in each programme. As a result of our findings this review has been marked green-amber and we made three recommendations.


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.

We recommend 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.


  1. DFID should manage its relationship with UNICEF as a strategic delivery partner, by maintaining regular oversight of its UNICEF portfolio as a whole and managing UNICEF relationships with a greater focus on results and value for money.
  2. DFID should negotiate an updated global Framework Arrangement with UNICEF, which reflects current best practice in management of the partnership, clarifies procurement charges and is aligned more closely with DFID’s approach to managing commercial contractors.
  3. DFID should strengthen its management of UNICEF’s local programme delivery, building on good practice seen in some DFID country offices and reflecting approaches used to manage other types of service delivery partner.


Read the news story


Review publication

Published 22 March 2013

Government response

Published 12 April 2013

ICAI follow-up

Published 12 June 2014