UN launches savings drive

14 December 2009
14 December 2009 | Jake Kanter

The United Nations plans to establish a collaborative purchasing hub to help its in-country agencies buy better.

The “single procurement agency” would be a point where relief bodies can purchase goods and services together, cutting duplication and boosting buying power.

The proposal forms part of plans to improve UN efficiency to free up funds for frontline services. It is feared that the value of aid donations will continue to be impacted the global economic downturn.

Speaking in New York last week, Gareth Thomas, UK international development minister, said there was no reason why the UN could not cut costs by 5 per cent through rationalising back-office functions.

“Many developed and developing countries are having to make tough choices and find efficiency savings in order to respond to the global crisis,” he said. “Why can’t the UN commit to a similar scale of efficiency savings over the next five years?”

Thomas pointed to the success of the UN’s “delivering as one” programme, where agencies in eight countries, including Tanzania and Pakistan, came together to help deliver objectives. Through greater coordination the bodies saved £1 million and Thomas said the work could be replicated across the UN.
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