Development assistance in Vanuatu
Stability in Vanuatu
This page provides an overview of how Australia is working in partnership with Vanuatu to deliver support against the Stability pillar of Partnerships for Recovery. It outlines key related initiatives and provides summaries of programming and related documents.
Australia is working with Vanuatu to build more effective legal institutions and improve police services, through the Vanuatu Australia Policing and Justice Program. We support the Vanuatu Women’s Centre to provide services for women and children affected by violence. We provide funding to Wan Smolbag, a Vanuatu civil society organisation, to support its work on community safety and resilience and improving access to essential health services. We also provide targeted support to expand women's income-earning and decision-making opportunities.
Australia makes a significant investment in Vanuatu’s human development through support for early education services. We work with the Vanuatu Government and communities to increase access to, and the quality of, early education to improve literacy and numeracy.
Vanuatu was hit by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold in April 2020, resulting in significant damage to homes, health and education facilities, crops and livelihoods. 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.
Vanuatu Australia Policing and Justice Program
$25 million, 2021 - 2024
The Vanuatu Australia Policing and Justice Program (VAPJP) Phase 2 integrates Australia's investments in policing and justice, building on previous programs of support including VAPJP Phase 1 ($22.3 million; 2016-2020). Phase 2 is a flexible and responsive program that acknowledges the crises of COVID-19 and
Tropical Cyclone Harold that have resulted in economic impacts and increased vulnerability, as well as the ongoing challenge of violence against women and children. The program supports the Government of Vanuatu to respond to challenges to the maintenance of security and the rule of law, and to build longer-term capability to provide the justice and policing services needed by communities.
The program is implemented jointly by the Australian Federal Police (AFP and a managing contractor. The program works closely and collaboratively under the direction and oversight of DFAT.
The Program aims to achieve the following outcomes:
- Justice and policing agencies improve quality and reach of services to Vanuatu communities, particularly in their handling of cases involving women, children and youth
- Women, children and youth are increasingly able to access state policing, justice and community services
- Policing and Justice agencies maintain public security and the rule of law.
Vanuatu Women's Centre
$6 million, 2016-2021
Over 20 years, with support through a long-term partnership with Australia, the Vanuatu Women's Centre (VWC) has grown from a small Port Vila-based organisation to a highly valued and respected national organisation. In addition to its Port Vila premises, the VWC has five provincial branches and 42 island-based committees. While counselling and support to women and children at risk of domestic violence are central to its services, the VWC now has a much broader mandate that covers human rights, legal and policy advocacy, community education and research.
Key outcomes sought are:
- up to 30,000 women and children in Vanuatu supported with counselling, legal assistance, emergency accommodation and/or referral to other services
- education and awareness-raising for 80,000 people leading to broader acceptance that violence against women and children violates human rights and changes in gender norms, attitudes and behaviour
- legal advocacy, lobbying and human rights training for 650 male advocates, VWC committee members and law and justice officials, leading to reduced discrimination and improved gender equality
- Vanuatu Women's Centre operating from a permanent, purpose-designed premises in Port Vila.
Wan Smolbag Community Partnership
$4.3 million, 2018-2021
Australia provides funding to Wan Smolbag, a Vanuatu civil society organisation that runs three youth centres located in Port Vila, Luganville (Santo), and Haulua (Pentecost). The organisation has grown from a theatre group of 15 voluntary actors in 1989 to a prominent civil society organisation delivering a range of activities on social issues, such as governance, climate change and health. Wan Smolbag's work aligns with the mutual priorities of the Australian and Vanuatu Governments, particularly its work on community safety and resilience and improving access to essential health services. They have a strong focus on young people and on the inclusion of people living with a disability. Wan Smolbag facilities on the outskirts of Port Vila also serve as an official evacuation centre for the surrounding peri-urban population in times of a disaster.
The Wan Smolbag Community Partnership is jointly financed with the New Zealand Government. Additional funding for core costs and activities is also provided by other donors, including Oxfam and World Vision.
Key outcomes of the partnership are:
- primary health services to peri-urban poor; and
- key social improvement messages delivered through the support of Wan Smolbag's theatre and television drama programs.
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development
$11.9 million, 2012-2022
In addition to bilateral program activities, the Australian Government funds initiatives supporting gender equality and women's empowerment in Vanuatu through the regional program Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women).
- Overview–Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development
- Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development–Vanuatu Country Plan Summary
Vanuatu Education Support Program
$25 million, 2018 – 2022
The Vanuatu Education Support Program (VESP) provides targeted support to the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) to help implement their Corporate Plan and Vanuatu's Education Sector Strategy. In order to harmonise and align programs with the Vanuatu Government, this program is co-funded with the New Zealand Government, with Australia as the lead donor, managing the overall program.
The focus of the program is on improving literacy and numeracy in primary school years. It supports teacher training; curriculum development; strengthened early childhood care and education; engaging communities through school-based management; efficient delivery of facilities and equipment; and improving Ministry of Education and Training capacity to manage an effective, de-centralised education system.
Since early 2020, VESP has been reshaped to assist the Government of Vanuatu to help ensure continuity of quality education in the face of COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold, and to deliver a schools grants program as part of Vanuatu's stimulus plan to address the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Key outcomes sought from this program:
- More children (girls and boys, including those with disabilities) are enrolled and attend the right year of primary school at the right age
- School principals, teachers, parents and communities collaborate to enable students to achieve improved literacy and numeracy outcomes (measured at Year 4 and Year 6), and
- MoET effectively plans, trials/implements and learns from devolution efforts and uses evidence to inform decision
$3 million per annum
Australia Awards offer the next generation of Vanuatu's leaders an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia and the Pacific region. Australia Awards complement development assistance to Vanuatu by building human resources in priority sectors. Through these prestigious scholarships, Australia is giving ni-Vanuatu students the skills and knowledge to drive change and influence economic and social development.
Tropical Cyclone Harold Response
Category 5 Tropical Cyclone (TC) Harold struck Vanuatu on 5 April 2020, affecting over 130,000 people (approx. 43% of the population) and resulting in three deaths. Vanuatu's northern islands were worst hit, including the main town of Luganville, Espiritu Santo. The Vanuatu Government estimated more than 26,000 houses were severely damaged or destroyed, leaving around 87,000 people without homes, and 130 public buildings and 258 community public water supplies were either damaged or destroyed. Impacts on health were severe, with damage to 84 health facilities, and reported increases in communicable diseases, including conjunctivitis and diarrhoea. Approximately 885 schools in Northern Vanuatu were damaged or destroyed, leaving approximately 40,000 children out of school. The estimated damage and loss from TC Harold is AUD 625 million, making it the worst cyclone to have ever hit Vanuatu. Australia provided two relief packages.
$11 million, 2020 for TC Harold immediate response and early recovery
As a first responder to TC Harold (April 2020), Australia provided an initial $11 million to support the immediate response and early recovery efforts, including through:
- provision of humanitarian relief supplies, such as blankets, lanterns, shelter kits and hygiene kits, and support for logistics in-country
- support for the Government of Vanuatu's response operations, including essential public services such as health, education and community safety; and
- assistance to international and local NGOs to support the Government's efforts to provide immediate and medium-term support to affected communities in livelihoods, shelter, protection for women and children and psychosocial services.
Further information on Australia's immediate response efforts is available at Tropical Cyclone Harold.
$20 million, 2021 – 2026 TC Harold Recovery
In December 2020, Australia provided an additional $20 million for the TC Harold Recovery Program. The Recovery Program will support the Government of Vanuatu to implement the Vanuatu Recovery Strategy 2020-2023, Yumi Evriwan Tugeta (July 2020) which targets restoration of essential services, enhanced livelihoods and repairing the built and natural environment to respond to the impacts of both TC Harold and COVID-19.
Key Outcomes sought from this program include:
- Restoration of health and education facilities
- Improved WASH in health, education and community facilities
- Promotion of economic recovery with a focus on getting people back to work
- Support and protect gender equity and social inclusion initiatives
- Strengthening GoV disaster management systems and disaster risk resilience in communities
Longer-term support is also being provided to assist with agriculture, livelihoods, shelter, hygiene promotion, and counselling services in partnership with Australian Humanitarian Partnership NGOs, the Red Cross and local NGOs.
Australia is also supporting the Vanuatu Family Health Association, through the IPPF SPRINT program, to provide gender-based violence support, sexual and reproductive health services, and other essential medical care in Penama and Sanma Provinces.
Tropical Cyclone Pam Response
$50 million, 2015 - 2019
Tropical Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu in March 2015, affecting four of Vanuatu's six provinces. The World Bank's Post Disaster Needs Assessment, endorsed by the Vanuatu Government, estimated total damage and loss from Tropical Cyclone Pam at around $600 million, or 64 per cent of GDP. Recovery costs were assessed at $426 million. Australia provided $15 million to support immediate response efforts.
Shortly after Tropical Cyclone Pam, the Vanuatu Government released its recovery plan, Strengthening ni-Vanuatu Resilience – National Recovery and Economic Strengthening Program Plan (Recovery Plan). Australia committed $35 million over four years (2015 to 2019) in long-term recovery support, bringing Australia's total estimated cyclone assistance to $50 million.
Our recovery program supports the Vanuatu Government's Recovery Plan and complements our broader development program, focusing on:
- supporting livelihoods, economic recovery and the private sector;
- repairing and rebuilding critical infrastructure for public administration;
- restoring health and education facilities, and
- supporting resilience and gender and disability inclusion.
Australia is best placed to support recovery in these areas, as they largely build on the strengths of our existing programs and relationships. To maximise their impact, our activities focused on Shefa and Tafea provinces, where almost 90 per cent of damage and loss occurred.
The key outcomes of Australia's contribution to the Cyclone Pam response are outlined in the Australian support to Vanuatu following Tropical Cyclone Pam fact sheet.