1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2003
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2003
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The aid program provides assistance in five key sectors:
Activities in these sectors are underpinned by a commitment to environmental sustainability and gender equity.
Country and regional strategies, which are developed in consultation with partner governments, are the primary means through which sectoral priorities are translated into programs on the ground. Strategies take account of partner government priorities, Australia’s strengths, and the activities of other donors. Within the sectoral framework, development assistance programs in partner countries comprise a range of activities. These include the provision of Australian goods and services, training and academic student scholarships, food aid and support for NGOs.
Papua New Guinea (PNG)
Australia's aid program with PNG is the largest aid program Australia has with any one country. Australia's aid to PNG seeks to support PNG's economic and social development by focusing on governance, health, education, infrastructure, sustainable management of natural resources, and the consolidation of the peace process in Bougainville.
Australia is supporting a wide-ranging program of public sector reforms being undertaken by the PNG Government. In 2002-03 Australia is providing $30m through the contestable PNG Incentive Fund, rewarding agencies and institutions that demonstrate a proven track record in program and financial management.
Work in the education sector is assisting PNG to maximise the benefits that information technologies can provide. Australia is helping PNG to improve infrastructure maintenance and promote sustainable management in the forestry sector. Australia is supporting the Bougainville Provincial Administration as it moves towards autonomous government, and is assisting the social reintegration of ex-combatants.
The Pacific region
Pacific Island Countries (PICs) face significant development challenges as a result of their economic and environmental vulnerability. Countries in the Pacific lack diversity in terms of production and export sectors, making them especially vulnerable to economic shocks and crop failure. Already facing the dual challenges of expanding populations and limited viable agricultural land, PICs are particularly susceptible to natural disasters and environmental deterioration. Furthermore, as small countries they often lack adequate capacity in their public or private sectors to cope with the range of challenges presented by the rapidly globalising world. They do not have access to a sufficiently large pool of people with the technical, administrative and managerial skills a modern state requires.
Australia's long-term objective is to help PICs achieve the maximum possible degree of self-reliance. Australia's assistance is principally provided in governance and economic reform, education and training, environment and natural resources, health and private sector development. In countries such as the Solomon Islands, where tension and conflict have erupted, Australia is working through the aid program to address the causes of the tension and provide short-term support while working with the country to improve social and economic conditions in the longer term.
This year will be challenging for many East Asian countries. Achieving significant economic growth and poverty reduction is likely to remain problematic. Key factors will be the health of the world economy and the demand for regional exports. The global economic slowdown impacted significantly in 2001-02, with regional growth of around 4.3% in calendar year 2001, compared with around 7.6% in 2000.
In East Asia, Australia has bilateral programs with Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, China, Cambodia, East Timor, Thailand, Laos, Burma and Mongolia. The aid program in Indonesia is Australia's second largest. Over the period 2001-03 Australian aid aims at addressing poverty reduction, sustainable economic recovery and democratisation in Indonesia. Australia is helping the newly independent East Timorese government to improve service delivery and public administration as well as supporting major programs in rural development, water supply and sanitation. In Vietnam Australia is supporting governance reforms by providing targeted policy advice and short-term training as well as continuing to address the needs of the rural poor. In the Philippines and China the livelihoods of the rural poor are also a focus, particularly in the southern islands of the Philippines and the west of China.
The Asia regional program complements Australia's bilateral assistance by addressing trans-boundary development challenges and strengthening regional cooperation and economic integration. Priority is given to governance (including economic management, trade and related economic integration issues and social protection) and health (including HIV/AIDS). Regional program activities aim to assist economic growth, while building capacity to address the needs of some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the region. International trade is crucial to sustainable development and poverty reduction in the region. Australia is assisting partner countries to engage effectively in the new round of multilateral trade negotiations agreed at the WTO meeting in Doha in November 2001.
In South Asia, Australia has bilateral programs with Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Bhutan. To be effective and deliver quality outcomes, Australian aid to South Asia is focused on a few key sectors including basic education, water and sanitation, and natural resource management. Building capacity to assist women and children in the region is a particular theme. Australian assistance aims to enhance human capital and improve service delivery, support reform and assist in strengthening governance, and increase the ability of governments to address the needs of vulnerable groups.
Africa and the Middle East
The development challenges facing Africa are enormous. Recurrent drought, food insecurity, illiteracy, poor health services and high rates of HIV/AIDS are often exacerbated by conflict, poor governance and a lack of social and economic investment. To help African countries meet these challenges, Australian aid focuses on governance, education and HIV/AIDS in southern Africa. This includes assistance to the African Virtual University in Nairobi to provide greater access to quality educational courses at lower cost, support to build the capacity of communities to combat gender violence and reduce poverty, and promotion of capacity building for government agencies in South Africa.
Australia's aid program to the Middle East continues to address the urgent social and economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza, through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and Australian and local Palestinian NGOs.
Multilateral and international organisations
Australia's support for multilateral and international organisations extends the reach of the aid program and leverages the benefits Australia's assistance can deliver. Australia supports a range of development banks, the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, UN agencies, including the World Food Program, UN Children's Fund and UN Development Program, as well as Commonwealth development agencies. Through support to international health programs Australia addresses persistent global health challenges, including tuberculosis, poor reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and polio, and emerging challenges such as non-communicable diseases, violence against women and mental health. Australia is also supporting international environment programs including the Global Environment Facility and the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund, to address the challenges of climate change, conservation of biological diversity, ozone layer depletion and persistent organic pollutants.
Emergency and humanitarian assistance
Australia's emergency, humanitarian and refugee programs aim to mitigate the adverse impacts of conflict, natural and other disasters on vulnerable populations. To ensure effective responses to conflict and disasters Australia works in cooperation with international and domestic partners to improve preparedness and risk reduction strategies, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. The program focuses on preparedness through analysis and planning; increasing indigenous capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters; increasing Australian government and non-government capacity to respond to a broad range of crises; and greater engagement with multilateral humanitarian agencies.
Non-government organisation activities and volunteer programs
NGOs play a key role in the provision of Australian aid to developing countries. Through their strong links with communities in developing countries and partnerships with local organisations, NGOs are well placed to strengthen civil society and build longer term sustainable development at the grassroots level. NGOs have also been successful in mobilising public support and voluntary contributions for aid, and in engaging the Australian community in aid activities.
Since the 1960s, when the Australian aid program first directly funded volunteers, they have been a key part of the human face of Australian aid. Volunteers help to reduce poverty through skills transfer and institutional strengthening, and enhance Australian community participation and interest in the aid program. Australia supports three types of volunteer services: short-term business volunteers; longer term community volunteers (through Australian Volunteers International); and short-term youth volunteers (through the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development Program). The Youth Ambassadors program develops partnerships with Australian organisations, and with education, community and government sectors through the placement of young Australians on development assignments throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
ACIAR is a statutory authority within the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio. As a part of Australia's aid program it assists Australian researchers, institutions and international research centres to develop solutions to agricultural problems in order to reduce poverty, improve food security and enhance natural resources management to the benefit of developing countries and Australia. Collaboration with researchers in developing countries is integral to all ACIAR projects, and ACIAR provides training and infrastructure to help build the capacity of these countries to undertake and apply research.
Funding for ACIAR in 2002-03 is $46.3m. This supports more than 180 bilateral research projects across the Asia-Pacific region with a primary focus in South-East Asia. ACIAR's bilateral projects focus on agricultural systems economics and management, agricultural development policy, crop sciences, animal sciences, post-harvest technologies, land and water resources, forestry and fisheries. The major bilateral partners of ACIAR are China, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, PNG, the Philippines and Thailand. Under its multilateral program ACIAR also supports international agricultural research centres through grants that link them to Australia's agricultural research organisations. Another component of ACIAR's work involves funding training and development to assist progress and implementation of its research. This is primarily achieved through a small program of postgraduate fellowships provided to developing country scientists for study at Australian universities.