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Development assistance in Vanuatu

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Overview of Australia's aid program to Vanuatu

How we are helping

2018-19 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$63.0 million
2019-20 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$41.9 million
2019-20 Total Australian ODA Estimate
approximately $66.2 million

Australia has a direct interest in a prosperous and stable Vanuatu. Australia is Vanuatu's largest development partner, providing approximately 39 per cent1 of total ODA to Vanuatu (excluding China which does not publish ODA figures). We work closely with the Vanuatu Government to support economic growth, stability and poverty reduction in Vanuatu. The Australian Government provided an estimated $66.2 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vanuatu in 2019-20.

Australia is also an important economic partner for Vanuatu, providing the country with the majority of its tourists and foreign direct investment prior to the economic disruption of COVID-19. Australia's aid and economic diplomacy strengthens the conditions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth and stability in Vanuatu, and helps to reduce poverty. Investing in women's economic empowerment and leadership, disability inclusion and the elimination of violence against women are priorities across our program.

Australia’s significant assistance to support Vanuatu respond to COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold, that hit the country in April 2020, complements our long-standing cooperation to support Vanuatu’s development. As of July 2020, Australia has provided $11 million to support the humanitarian response to Tropical Cyclone Harold and early recovery activities, and also $16 million in immediate support and reprioritised funds to help prepare for, and mitigate against, the effects of COVID-19. This has included refurbishment of isolation wards in two hospitals; new support for the Health Emergency Operation Centre and emergency services; and retaining key Australian health specialists in-country.

Australia's aid partnership with Vanuatu

The Vanuatu and Australian governments work together to ensure our development partnership contributes as effectively and efficiently as possible to sustained and inclusive economic growth and reduced poverty in Vanuatu. Our development program aligns with the priorities outlined in the Government of Vanuatu’s National Sustainable Development Plan 2016-30, including increasing equitable access to essential services like health and education and increasing economic opportunities for all ni-Vanuatu.

We will work with the Government of Vanuatu to implement Australia’s new development strategy – Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response – which is focussed on health security, stability and economic recovery.

Our development partnership includes support in four key areas:

  • building resilient infrastructure and an environment for economic opportunity;
  • improving early education and essential health services;
  • improving community safety and resilience; and
  • supporting cyclone recovery and reconstruction.

Building resilient infrastructure and an environment for economic opportunity

We are helping the Vanuatu Government provide the right conditions for business and investment by supporting economic growth and management, including through policy dialogue and technical assistance. We are also supporting Vanuatu to improve economic opportunities for ni-Vanuatu through technical and vocational training, education and university scholarships, as well as expanding women's income-earning opportunities and through ni-Vanuatu participation in seasonal labour opportunities in Australia. Revitalisation of key infrastructure, including improvements to rural roads are improving the movement of people, goods and services.

Investments for building resilient infrastructure and an environment for economic opportunities

Improving early education and essential health services

Early education and essential health services are areas where Australian investment makes the biggest contribution to human development in Vanuatu. Australia works with the Vanuatu Government and communities to increase access to, and the quality of, early education to improve literacy and numeracy. Working with the Vanuatu Government, we aim to improve access to resilient, quality essential health services, with a focus on workforce development and primary care.

Investments for improving early education and essential health services

Improving community safety and resilience

We aim to strengthen key legal and justice institutions (informal and formal) including the police, with a focus on access to justice for women, children and youth. We also work with a range of partners to reduce the prevalence of violence against women and children, and to increase access to counselling support and legal services.

Investments for improving community safety and resilience

Supporting cyclone recovery and reconstruction

Vanuatu was hit by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold in April 2020, resulting in significant damage to homes, health and education facilities and damage to over 26,000 houses[1]. Australia has provided $11 million to the response and early recovery efforts and will continue to work with the Government of Vanuatu to support the recovery process. Australia provided $35 million for long-term recovery efforts following Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015.

Investments for supporting cyclone recovery and reconstruction

Our results

Key recent achievements attributable to Australian aid in Vanuatu include:

  • Australia strengthened policing and justice services by supporting training of 187 (50 women) new recruits to the Vanuatu Police Force and over 433 law and justice officials. Australian funding enabled the Vanuatu Women’s Centre to deliver counselling, legal and crisis response services to 6,612 women and children survivors of violence in 2018-19.
  • Australia’s support for education benefited 51,690 primary students (24,169 girls) across all six provinces, with new curriculum rolled out to 98 per cent of primary schools, continuing professional development for 1,399 teachers and 415 principals, and classroom resources delivered to all 432 primary schools during 2018-19.
  • Between 2014 and 2018 our $29 million rural road investment achieved a 30 per cent increase in the all-weather road network from 1,050 to 1,370 km, and a 13 per cent increase in the population living within 2 km of an all-weather road, known as the Rural Accessibility Index (RAI).
  • In 2018-19, 728 ni-Vanuatu people participated in skills development activities (66 per cent women, 2 per cent people with a disability), 35 private sector training providers were registered under the national Quality Assurance Framework and seven courses gained accreditation with the Vanuatu Qualifications Authority.
  • Since 2008, the Australia Pacific Training Coalition has trained almost 2,000 (171 including 91 women in 2018-19) ni-Vanuatu, achieving internationally recognised qualifications including in carpentry, hospitality, education support, tourism, training and assessment, leadership and management.
  • In 2018-19 Vanuatu was the largest labour sending country under Australia’s labour mobility schemes, providing employment opportunities and bringing diverse skills, experience and exposure back to Vanuatu for 4,964 (889 women) workers
  • Australia Awards provided 46 ni-Vanuatu (52 per cent women) with an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development in 2018-19.

[1] Figures taken from the Vanuatu Recovery Strategy 2020 – 2023; lower numbers had been used prior to this publication based on preliminary analysis by line ministries and early assessments of damage.

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