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Development assistance in Vanuatu

Flag of Vanuatu

Australia’s partnership with Vanuatu

2023-24 bilateral allocation [budget estimate]
$50.0 million
2023-24 total Australian ODA [budget estimate]
$84.6 million
2022-23 total Australian ODA [actual
$112.5 million
2021-22 total Australian ODA [actual]
$91.4 million

Vanuatu also benefits from non-ongoing COVID-19 response measures. Funding from these measures will be included in actual figures published in the relevant Australia's Official Development Assistance: Statistical Summary.

Australia and Vanuatu are close partners, with Australia being the largest provider of development and humanitarian assistance to Vanuatu. We have  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 work with the Government of Vanuatu to implement Australia’s 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 help drive economic recovery. Investing in women’s economic empowerment and leadership, eliminating violence against women and acting on 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 its 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 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. In addition, Australia is providing a $22.8 million to the Tropical Cyclone Harold Recovery Package over five years from 2021-2026. This Recovery Program contributes to the restoration of health and education facilities; improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health, education and community facilities; promotion of economic recovery (with a focus on getting people back to work); and gender and social protection, including women's economic empowerment and leadership, eliminating violence against women and disability inclusion.

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 2020-2021

Key recent achievements attributable to the Australian development program in Vanuatu include:

  • With remittances a key pillar of Vanuatu’s economy, Australia and Vanuatu quickly and safely re-established Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme. Since September 2020 to June 2021, over 3,000 ni-Vanuatu labour mobility workers have travelled to Australia.
  •  Australia supported development of the Labour Mobility Re-entry Strategy and has partnered with V-Lab, to provide entrepreneurship and business skills coaching to returned workers to help them launch their own businesses.
  • Australia’s economic support provided monthly cash-transfers to over 24,000 vulnerable people and helped keep over 11,000 ($8 million in school fee relief to families) students in school.
  • Australia’s $22 million (2021-26) TC Harold Recovery Package is rebuilding climate resilient health and education facilities, improving access to WASH, and promoting economic support, gender and social protection activities in cyclone-affected areas. This builds on Australia’s $11 million (2019-20) response package which reached over 120,000 people with humanitarian supplies, food, WASH and livelihood activities.
  • In 2021, Australia trained 728 justice and policing officials and supported 8,264 women and children to accessing counselling and other support services.
  • The Vanuatu Skills Partnership (VSP) provided skills training to 650 people (48 per cent women) and business skills support services to 238 businesses (68 per cent owned by women or couples) impacted by COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold.
  • Australia supported Vanuatu’s Public Works Department to reach its target of maintaining over 1,342 km of roads in 2020.
  • Australia is the largest provider of end-to-end support to Vanuatu’s national COVID-19 vaccine rollout. We have provided 160,000 Australian AZ vaccine does, and our $11m (2021-23) funding is building provincial vaccine storage facilities, training and funding health staff, supporting community messaging, and strengthening health information systems.
  • In 2020, our support enabled Vanuatu Women’s Centre to provide counselling and legal services to 7,262 women and girls affected by violence (including 14 people with disabilities).
  • We enabled local organisation, Wan Smolbag Theatre, to support vulnerable people – including youth, people with disabilities and the peri-urban poor – to make informed life choices through workshops, theatre, dance, sport and nutrition. In 2020, Wan Smolbag plays reached 18,448 people while its YouTube videos, including on COVID-19 safe behaviour, had over one million views.


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