Consultancy: Taxation and subsidy to promote use of nutritious foods for children


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Purpose of Activity/Assignment

The poor quality of young children’s diets is a major driver of all forms of malnutrition. In recent decades with population growth and rapid urbanization, changes in dietary patterns have been observed among children even the youngest ones, such as a lower consumption of fresh foods and a higher consumption of ultra-processed foods[1]. Sales volume of ultra-processed foods have been increasing in most regions of the world, including in upper-middle and lower-middle-income countries, where the annual growth rate was 4.4% in 2019.

The consumption by children of ultra-processed foods with low nutrient profile has been shown to be linked to increased risk of noncommunicable chronic diseases in adulthood. Young children precisely represent the population of greatest concern since these products are extremely palatable and convenient to eat or drink and are aggressively marketed. With the rapidly growing number of studies reporting associations between UPFs and adverse health outcomes, and NCDs, there is an increasing need to take on board the contribution of these foods to the global burden of disease, as well as the need to act on multiple levels, including through government regulation, to improve the health prospects of current and future generations[2].

Taxation on unhealthy foods, often referred to as « junk food taxes, » is a policy measure implemented by governments to address public health concerns associated with the consumption of foods and beverages that are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. The primary goals of such taxes are to create a disincentive for the consumption of unhealthy foods and promoting healthier dietary choices, secondarily it could contribute to the reduction of the economic costs associated with related health issues. The focus, over the year, seems to have been on Sweet and sugary beverage (SSB) primary. Currently, 21 countries over 24 in WCAR have some form of SSB taxes[3]. A Comparative analysis of unhealthy food tax policies found that sugar-sweetened beverage was included more often than other unhealthy foods[4].

A systematic review assessed the effect of healthy food/beverage subsidies and unhealthy food/beverage taxation, and it showed that taxation and subsidy policies can be effective for modifying population dietary behaviours or practices (Moderately/strong evidence). It also suggested that food taxes should be a minimum of 10 to 15% and preferably used in tandem with subsidies . Unfortunately, despite increased interest globally in leveraging SSB taxes, taxes remain low as shown in the table below.

Table – Existing taxes in West and Central African countries

However, it’s important to note that while sugar taxes have been implemented in 21 countries over 24, their effectiveness and impact are still subjects to debate and should be assessed. Some argue that such taxes disproportionately affect lower-income individuals, while others contend that they are a crucial step in addressing the public health challenges associated with poor dietary habits.

The objective of this study is around three pillars. First within several countries from WCAR with existing taxation for SSB, it aims to assess how taxes have affected the penetration of SSB (market share) since its application jointly and will estimate own- and cross- price-elasticities of ‘junk’ foods and SSBs for West and Central African households. Secondly, the study will assess the potential impact of a series of alternative tax schemes and subsidies beyond SSB on household expenditures for food items. Finally, the consultancy will assess the readiness of countries without any legislation in place.

Scope of Work

The consultant will liaise with the regional office to support develop a regional strategy for the taxation and subsidy to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods, promote public health, generate revenue, or address the economic costs associated with related health issues.

The Specific tasks are to

Scope A: WCAR market survey of unhealthy products

  • Analyze market-trends of the taxed SSB before and after the legislation
  • Identify taxable unhealthy foods and beverages (considering children and market penetration) and map-out the market of those unhealthy foods in West and Central Africa
  • Define the scope of the current tax and potential new ones (from high levels of added sugars, salt, unhealthy fats to any other specific unhealthy nutrient content such as harmful food additives, including sweeteners, flavors intensifiers, food coloring, thickener, emulsifier, preservatives)

Scope B: ECOWAS regional taxation standardization

  • Determine the appropriate tax rates for different categories of unhealthy foods within the ECOWAS region.
  • Consider the elasticity of demand for these products, potential health benefits, and the need to avoid disproportionately impacting lower-income populations.
  • Estimate the current tax revenue of those unhealthy foods, and the impact of new taxes revenue generated versus loss revenue due to additional taxes.
  • Assess what would be other incentives for a regional taxation through a consultation with various stakeholders, including public health experts, policymakers from different ministries (industry, commerce, trade, finance), and community groups.
  • Assess the alignment of the proposed regional taxation with the regional legal and regulatory frameworks.
  • Consider potential legal challenges and work within the established legal boundaries.

Scope C: 3 countries case-study – 2 countries with tax legislation and 1 without

  • Assess the legislative and executive changes needed for taxation and/or subsidy schemes that aim to improve nutritional outcomes of children.
  • Evaluate healthier alternatives that could be subsidized with the extra resources that will be raised through the proposed taxation.
  • This will help address concerns about the affordability of healthier options.
  • Assess the opportunities and readiness at country level to adopt a warning label on food packaging for ultra-processed foods or any other alternatives
  • The consultant will liaise with UNICEF regional and country nutrition section and local partners engaged in similar exercises.

Work Assignments Overview Deliverables/Outputs Delivery deadline Estimated Budget

  • Deliverable 1: Inception report approved by UNICEF 1 month 20%
  • Deliverable 2: WCAR market survey of unhealthy products submitted to UNICEF (Scope A) 3 months 20%
  • Deliverable 3: ECOWAS regional taxation standardization disseminated to ECOWAS and UNICEF (Scope B) 3 months 20%
  • Deliverable 4: 3 country case-study – 2 with tax legislation and 1 without finalized (Scope C) 3 months 20%
  • Deliverable 5: Regional model for legislative and executive instruments to develop and implement the tax is proposed 1 months 20%

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • At least Master’s degree in health economics, social factors, or a similar domain
  • At least 10 years of relevant working experience in health economics, legislation, taxes
  • Diverse fields of experience can be also an asset.
  • Strong neutral figure vis-à-vis the government and the private sector
  • Demonstrated capacity to engage with government and partners
  • Knowledge of public-private dialogue processes and related communications programs.
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent writing skills in French and English
  • Fluency in both French and English is required

Other Requirements

  • Completed profile in UNICEF’s e-Recruitment system /Resume
  • Academic credentials/certificates
  • Consultancy proposal

Financial proposal that will include:

  • Costs for each deliverable and total all-inclusive (lump sum) fees for the whole assignment
  • Travel costs and daily subsistence allowance, if internationally recruited or travel is required as per TO
  • Any other estimated costs: visa, health insurance, and living costs as applicable.
  • Previously relevant consultancy products & final evaluations (if available)
  • Indicate your availability
  • At the time the contract is awarded, the selected candidate must have in place current health insurance coverage.
  • Payment of professional fees will be based on submission of agreed satisfactory deliverables. UNICEF reserves the right to withhold payment in case the deliverables submitted are not up to the required standard or in case of delays in submitting the deliverables on the part of the consultant.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, Accountability, and Sustainability (CRITAS).

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UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most disadvantaged children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to include everyone, irrespective of their race/ethnicity, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic background, or any other personal characteristic.

UNICEF offers reasonable accommodation for consultants/individual contractors with disabilities. This may include, for example, accessible software, travel assistance for missions or personal attendants. We encourage you to disclose your disability during your application in case you need reasonable accommodation during the selection process and afterwards in your assignment.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

The selected candidate is solely responsible to ensure that the visa (applicable) and health insurance required to perform the duties of the contract are valid for the entire period of the contract. Selected candidates are subject to confirmation of fully-vaccinated status against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) with a World Health Organization (WHO)-endorsed vaccine, which must be met prior to taking up the assignment. It does not apply to consultants who will work remotely and are not expected to work on or visit UNICEF premises, programme delivery locations or directly interact with communities UNICEF works with, nor to travel to perform functions for UNICEF for the duration of their consultancy contracts.

Application close: Apr 21 2024 Greenwich Standard Time.

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