Procurement: A social, economic prosperity tool


Procurement is an effective development tool if it is correctly positioned and adequately resourced in institutions.

Nyasha Chizu

It has capacity to drive social as well as economic development.
It’s a social part of development and very critical; it relates to many aspects that concern people’s lives.

The measure of human development extends outside mere economic measure of gross national product per head, it includes elements such as the quality of education and healthcare among other measures.

The main economic objectives of human development include issues of equity, efficiency, participation and sustainability.

Social objectives of upholding the principles such as responsibility or respect for human rights also matter.

Procurement activities are strategically posed to promote the economic objectives of human development.

Equity in human development draws the concept of justice, impartiality and fairness and incorporates a consideration for distributive justice between groups.

The principle of equity is critical in procurement, it relates to, but different from, the concept of equality of all.

In human development, equity draws attention to those who have unequal opportunities due to various disadvantages and may require preferential treatment or affirmative action.

There are classes of the society that include the poor, disabled, ethnic minorities or gender that may need special measures to enable them to have the same level of capabilities with economically developed sectors.

Procurement systems can be adjusted to accommodate such classes, achieving equity without compromising the value for money principle.

Efficiency refers to the optimal use of existing resources. The human development perspective that share the same objectives with procurement aims to achieve objectives through optimal use of resources that include human, material, environmental and institutional resources to expand capabilities for individuals and communities.

Efficient procurement is therefore primary to effective human development strategies by any nation.

Participation and empowerment is about the process in which people act as agents in their individual capacity or as a group.

They have freedom to make decisions in matters that affect their lives, to hold others accountable for their promises and the development of their communities.

Citizens have the right to participate in procurement processes and holding office bearers accountable for procurement decisions.

The principle implies that people need to be involved at every stage, not as mere beneficiaries, but as agents who are able to pursue and realise goals that they value and have reason to value.

Sustainability has three dimensions, one for exploiting resources with the future in mind, the way in which the current projects are financed with regards to future generations and economic stability and how the social sectors is involved in the development initiatives overtime.

Environmental sustainability implies achieving development results without jeopardising the natural resources and biodiversity.
Financial sustainability ensures that the country is not led into a debt trap.

Social element ensures that the community is involved where possible in the procurement activities that provide development.
Procurement is, therefore, pivotal to drive environmental, financial and social sustainability.

In order to achieve social and economic prosperity, procurement needs to be correctly positioned in order to provide strategic direction in organisations and at the national level.

Nyasha Chizu is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply writing in his personal capacity. Feedback: