An evaluation of the Harmonised Cash Transfer (HACT) approach as a risk management tool: The case of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Zimbabwe (2010-2013)
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Intra-governmental organisations rely on funding from donor agencies to conduct their operations and managing risk is a very crucial aspect for their reputation. UNICEF Zimbabwe adopted a risk management tool which is the Harmonised Cash Transfer system (HACT) in 2005 after it reviewed its operation. The aim of the study was to evaluate its effectiveness as a risk management tool. Seven critical success factors were identified from several authors and provided a basis for evaluating the effectiveness of the tool.The factors were communication, commitment and support from top management, strategy, culture, information technology, organisational structure and measurement. The research also answered some of the research questions which were to identify the challenges posed by such a risk management approach, establish whether HACT promoted financial management capacity of implementing partners, establish whether HACT created a burdensome reporting process and establish whether HACT was in line with the organisations corporate strategy and objectives. The quantitative method was used and a questionnaire was sent out to collect data. The findings reviewed that HACT lacked support from users especially when it came to conducting micro-assessments, training of HACT was not offered to new employees as soon as they joined, there were no clear lines of allocation of duties and responsibility, the organization lacked capacity in conducting micro-assessment and HACT created complex reporting. However HACT was viewed as having improved the financial management capability of implementing partners and its aim of reducing transaction costs and minimizing risk meant that UNICEF Zimbabwe was able to increase the amount reaching the beneficiaries which is part of its corporate strategy and objectives. The recommendations were for UNICEF Zimbabwe to revise its risk management policy to enable micro-assessments to be conducted for all implementing partners regardless of the amount being transferred, to outsource external audit functions, to centralize the accounting functions to enable timely and accurate reporting, to clearly align responsibilities by having specific job descriptions and offer training to new staff on the risk management tool.