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Development assistance in Nauru

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Overview of Australia's aid program to Nauru

Overview of Australia's aid program to Nauru

How we are helping

2018-19 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$26.7 million

2019-20 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$21.2 million

2019-20 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$25.8 million

Australia is Nauru's most significant donor, providing development assistance equivalent to 25 per cent of Nauru's gross domestic product in 2017–18. Australia's aid in Nauru forms part of our broader economic and diplomacy efforts to promote prosperity and security in the Pacific region.

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $25.8 million in total ODA to Nauru in 2019-20. This will include an estimated $21.2 million in bilateral funding to Nauru managed by DFAT.

Infographic, link to text version below
Nauru and Australia: standing strong together infographic. Larger version [PDF 500 KB] | Text version

Recent significant growth in economic activity and public revenue has resulted in Nauru now enjoying high rates of employment, with many households earning higher incomes than they have been for many years. However, poor health and education outcomes persist. Despite significant progress in reducing Nauru's debt burden in recent years, the economy is easily affected by external influences. Energy and clean water production are reliant on the costly importation of diesel fuel. Public sector management is hampered by a lack of skilled and qualified personnel, and critical national infrastructure is dilapidated.

On 8 September 2017, then Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the establishment of a new Pacific Labour Scheme to enable citizens of Pacific island countries to take up low and semi-skilled work opportunities in rural and regional Australia for up to three years. This scheme provides new opportunities for workers to build their skills and send remittances home to support their families. The Prime Minister also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nauru's President Baron Waqa to facilitate Nauru's entry into the scheme.

Australia's commitment to development cooperation with Nauru is ongoing with a shared objective of supporting stable and fiscally responsible government; promoting human development; and essential infrastructure services.

Australia's aid program is organised around the following three strategic objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan 2015-16 to 2018-19.

Objective 1: Promoting more effective public sector management

Supporting Nauru to strengthen financial management capacity and economic governance is essential to maximise the benefits of current government revenues. Australia is funding the recruitment and salaries of four deputy secretaries within the Departments of Finance, Customs and Revenue. These positions are responsible for policies and processes associated with revenue collection, including customs revenue, debt management, fiscal management and development policy and coordination. Australia also funds the additional positions of a tax implementation advisor and corporate services manager.

Promoting more effective public sector management

Objective 2: Investing in nation building infrastructure

Construction and maintenance of infrastructure to support human development and foster commerce and trade is consistent with Australia's strategic interests. Investing in infrastructure promotes economic growth and facilitates trade. Australia will continue to work with the Government of Nauru to identify key priorities for infrastructure development. Australia is currently supporting major redevelopment works at Nauru's port and the placement of a Chief Executive Officer of the Nauru Utilities Corporation.

Investing in nation building infrastructure

Objective 3: Supporting human development

Australia is assisting Nauru to deliver better health and education services by improving the quality of education and primary health care. A healthy and educated population is critical to Nauru's future. Supporting Nauru to address obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease, and strengthen its education results are priorities. Maintaining a strong focus on improved domestic education outcomes, technical and vocational skills development, and tertiary scholarships will expand employment opportunities for the Nauruan population both domestically through government, private and state-owned enterprises and throughout the Pacific region.

Supporting human development

Our results

In 2017–18, Australia's aid program to Nauru produced the following results:

  • A new Australian-funded tertiary education facility was opened in May 2018. The "learning village" includes a campus for the University of the South Pacific, new technical and vocational facilities, and a national library.
  • Australian funding supported the installation of two new 2.8MW diesel generators and switchgear in January 2018, leading to improvements in the supply and reliability of electricity and water desalination services.
  • Australian-funded advisers assisted Nauru develop and implement its first Medium Term Expenditure Framework, which will support greater economic stability through 3-4 year planning cycles for government spending.
  • Australia supported 18 new Nauruan students study at institutions in Australia and the region through the Australia Awards program.

Our changing program

Our aid program in Nauru is focused on the needs of the broader Nauruan community and the development priorities of the Government of Nauru - improving public sector management, investing in nation building infrastructure and supporting human development.

We will work towards consolidating investments, targeting resources and increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of critical sectors such as health and education. We will strengthen synergies between Australian bilateral and regional investments, and between investments supported by DFAT and other Australian government agencies. Stronger integration of climate change, gender equality and disability inclusiveness considerations will be an essential aspect of Australia's development cooperation with Nauru going forward. We will maintain a focus on major infrastructure developments, including construction of the new port facility and promoting access and opportunity through the new Learning Village and Community Sports Complex. As part of its broader cooperation with the Pacific, Australia is also working towards expanding participation in labour mobility opportunities, expanding people-to-people links and facilitating deeper trade integration.

In addition to signing a memorandum of understanding on the Pacific Labour Scheme, Nauru and Australia also signed memoranda of understanding on security cooperation and pharmaceuticals testing at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' meeting in Samoa in September 2017.

Last Updated: 2 April 2019
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