Skip to main content

Development assistance in Vanuatu

Flag of Vanuatu

Australia’s development partnership with Vanuatu

2021-22 bilateral allocation [budget estimate]
$46.0 million
2021-22 total Australian ODA [budget estimate]
$75.6 million
2019-20 total Australian ODA [budget actual]
$91.7 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  Development Response Plan 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 in Vanuatu.

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 in Vanuatu.

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 in Vanuatu.

Our results

Vanuatu Development Progress Report for 2019-20

Key recent achievements attributable to Australian aid in Vanuatu include:

  • In 2020, Australia’s initial $17 million COVID-19 response package supported Vanuatu to: purchase medical equipment, upgrade health infrastructure and provide PPE for health workers; design and deliver an economic stimulus package to subsidise wages and help businesses retain staff and diversify services; and support continued access to education through provision of school grants. 
    • We supported ni-Vanuatu labour mobility program participants to remain employed in Australia - through welfare, reskilling and redeployment assistance, enabling them to continue providing remittances to their families during the pandemic.
    • Australia increased support for livelihoods and employment by providing training in agriculture, construction and plumbing to upskill and re-skill workers, supporting economic diversification and increased incomes; and facilitating domestic market access to Vanuatu’s two major provincial handicraft production hubs, assisting approximately 200 female producers.
    • We supported food security through provision of seedlings and agricultural equipment to establish food gardens for 1,633 households, supply of poultry breeder packs to 970 households, and establishment of food corridors between islands to link farmers with markets.
    • Australia supported a nationwide home-school radio program, continuing access to education. We also supported rollout of a new national Year 5 curriculum, teaching and learning materials to all primary schools. A further $4 million for schools and communities is providing economic stimulus in response to local needs.
  • Our immediate $11 million Tropical Cyclone Harold Response Package in April 2020 provided: over 125 tonnes of humanitarian supplies and construction, medical and communications equipment; funded health, education, and social protection services; and reached over 120,000 people with food, Water Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) and livelihood restoration activities.
  • In 2019-20 we provided support services to over 1,800 unemployed, at-risk youth through ni-Vanuatu NGO Wan Smolbag and to over 9,000 women and children affected by violence through Vanuatu Women’s Centre.
  • Over 1,500km of roads (1,313km rural) were maintained and repaired, providing local jobs, economic stimulus and linking communities to services and markets.
  • The Australia Pacific Technical Coalition’s work-ready training helped 63 labour mobility workers prepare to deploy to Australia, while the new Ready for Work radio series is reaching prospective workers and building employment skills across Vanuatu.
  • Australia Awards provided 316 ni-Vanuatu (55 per cent women) with an opportunity to study, research, and undertake professional development from 2012-2018.
Back to top