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Development assistance in Vanuatu

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Overview of Australia’s development partnership with Vanuatu

2020-21 bilateral allocation [budget estimate]
$46.0 million
2020-21 total Australian ODA [budget estimate]
$75.6 million
2019-20 total Australian ODA [budget estimate]
$66.2 million

Australia and Vanuatu are close partners, with Australia being the largest provider of development and humanitarian assistance to Vanuatu. We have a strong and enduring bilateral relationship and are committed to working with Vanuatu to support recovery from the broad impacts of COVID-19 and build resilience in the face of ongoing natural disasters.

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. This includes supporting implementation of Vanuatu’s COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone (TC) Harold response strategy, Vanuatu Recovery Strategy 2020 — 2023, Yumi Evriwan Tugeta (July 2020) and Vanuatu’s National Sustainable Development Plan 2016 — 2030. Australia’s investments in economic growth, health, education and skills, policing, justice and security, as well as key infrastructure projects will help drive economic recovery. Investing in women’s economic empowerment and leadership, eliminating violence against women and disability inclusion will ensure our support helps the most vulnerable.

Pillar 1 — Health security

Australia is Vanuatu’s largest health sector partner. We are working with the Government of Vanuatu to deliver priorities identified in their COVID-19 Health Sector Preparedness and Response Plan. This includes support for: enhanced surveillance, early warning and diagnostic capacity; quarantine facilities; medical supplies and equipment; and specialist health advice.

In parallel, we continue to support Vanuatu’s efforts to improve delivery of equitable, accessible and better-quality essential health services. Work to increase the availability of primary and clinical care, support immunisation, prevent and treat malaria and chronic diseases, and provide access to sexual and reproductive health services, improves health outcomes for the most vulnerable, particularly women and girls.

Partnerships with regional and multilateral organisations like the World Health Organisation on emergency health preparedness and response systems and the Pacific Community on medical workforce training, as well as with Non-Government Organisations on social protection and water and sanitation, helps improve health services for all ni-Vanuatu.

Further information on programs addressing health security can be found at Pillar 1 — Health security.

Pillar 2 — Stability

Vanuatu’s economic recovery requires a foundation of stability and security as well as a well-educated population. Australia is working with Vanuatu 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. Our policing support will help address COVID-19 frontline response and strengthen operational capabilities, organisational leadership and management of the Vanuatu Police Force. 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.

Our ongoing support in the education sector will ensure all children can access quality education, with a focus on improving literacy and numeracy, as well as helping to maintain continuity of learning through pandemics and disaster events. This will include implementing COVID-19 protocols, radio education programs and remote schooling as well as rebuilding disaster and climate resilient classrooms damaged by Tropical Cyclone Harold. Our support for university scholarships for ni-Vanuatu students, as well as expanding women's income-earning and decision-making opportunities, will also improve economic opportunities for ni-Vanuatu women and men.

Vanuatu is one of the most 'at-risk' countries to natural hazards in the world including cyclones, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Australia will remain Vanuatu’s primary humanitarian partner and is committed to supporting Vanuatu build its disaster resilience, response and recovery capabilities. Australia provided $11 million to support Vanuatu’s immediate response to Tropical Cyclone Harold, a Category 5 Cyclone that hit Vanuatu in April 2020. This included support for health, education, WASH and social protection services.

Further information on programs addressing stability can be found at Pillar 2 — Stability.

Pillar 3 — Economic recovery

Australia will continue to be an active partner supporting economic governance and growth in Vanuatu to help address the economic challenges posed by COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold. Our support aligns with the priorities set out in the Vanuatu Government’s COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package including a focus on preserving jobs, stabilising business and trade activities, facilitating rural growth and enabling remittances through labour mobility programs. To help Vanuatu improve its business environment and adapt to the post COVID-19 context we will also work with the government and Vanuatu’s private sector on tourism, trade and investment policy, e-commerce and financial inclusion.

With other development partners, Australia will focus on the provision of priority infrastructure with a high economic rate of return, and support economic stimulus by using local contractors to grow the private sector and local jobs. Our support for the development and maintenance of rural road networks helps to improve access to services and markets for rural communities, improving livelihoods and economic growth.

Increased access to inclusive skills development and livelihood opportunities in agriculture, construction and business development will help replace those lost in COVID-19 impacted sectors. Along with mentoring and seed funding provided through private sector partners, this will support businesses to adapt and diversify. To contribute to food security and economic stimulus through local markets, we will support the establishment of seed banks and food corridors. Implementation of a cash transfer program with NGO partners targets vulnerable informal sector workers, particularly women.

Further information on programs addressing economic recovery can be found at Pillar 3 — Economic recovery.

Our results

The Vanuatu Country Progress Report for 2019-20 will be published shortly. 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.
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