Family planning supplies stored at a Ministry of Health and Population facility in Nepal. © 2015 Julie Gerdes/GHFP-II, Courtesy of PhotoshareFamily planning programs can procure contraceptives in a variety of ways. While some receive donated contraceptives, others procure them directly from manufacturers, through procurement agents, or through social marketing programs. Programs might procure contraceptives using their own money or using credit from the World Bank.

The Population Report on "Strengthening the Supply Chain" outlines eight steps usually involved in the procurement process.

Step 1: Prepare procurement plan. This includes product specifications, timing of procurement activities, and estimated quantities.

Step 2: Reconcile needs with funds. Program managers must prioritize in the event that available funds do not cover needed quantities.

Step 3: Select procurement method. Contraceptives can be acquired through competitive international bidding or through local purchase. Programs can buy contraceptives themselves or use a procurement agent.

Step 4: Select suppliers. Trusted organizations like UNFPA, USAID, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) can provide references for reputable suppliers.

Step 5: Specify terms and place the order. When possible, programs should order shipments so that shipping containers are full to avoid contraceptives being mixed with toxic or flammable goods. The size and frequency of shipments might vary depending on a country's capacity for processing at customs, reliability of shipping systems, and weather conditions.

Step 6: Monitor order status. This includes tracking the supplier's receipt of the order, order fulfillment, and shipping dates.

Step 7: Receive and check goods. Good working relationships with customs officials can ensure open lines of communication so that programs are notified quickly of any problems with a shipment. Programs generally check the quality of contraceptives upon entry into the country or at the central warehouse.

Step 8: Make payment to suppliers. Failing to pay, or paying late, can disrupt the supply chain by jeopardizing relationships with suppliers.

This section of the Toolkit provides a variety of guides and tools to aid in the procurement process and shares several country experiences with addressing barriers and improving procurement processes. Visit the Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation section of the Toolkit for procurement indicators and tools for assessing the impact of policy on procurement and on contraceptive security. Do you have a comment about this section of the Toolkit or a resource you'd like to suggest? Please fill out our feedback form.