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AUSTRALIAN OVERSEAS AID PROGRAM
AUSTRALIAN AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (AusAID)
AusAID is an administratively autonomous agency within the Australian Government's Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio. The agency is responsible for management of Australia’s overseas aid program on behalf of the Government. The objective of the aid program is to assist developing countries reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development, in line with Australia’s national interest.
Guiding themes of the overseas aid program
With three overarching priorities - gender equality, partnerships and untied aid - the 2006 White Paper on Australian Aid sets out four themes to guide the direction of the aid program:
The projected increase in Australia's overseas aid by 2010 is subject to the continued and effective application of resources and the performance of partner governments and institutions. The aid program is building on Australia’s commitment to aid effectiveness, placing it at the forefront of international development practice.
The effectiveness of the aid program is ensured by:
COUNTRY AND REGIONAL PROGRAMS
Map 3.4 shows the geographical distribution of Australian aid in 2005-06. An outline of individual country and regional current aid programs is provided in the following paragraphs.
Papua New Guinea (PNG)
While PNG faces considerable challenges, the PNG Government has initiated strong reforms with respect to central bank independence, tariff reforms, the labour market and the financial sector. Economic activity suffers, however, because of poor infrastructure, burdensome regulation and licensing, and the effects of crime. Over 40% of the population lives on less than US$1 per day. Developments such as the PNG-Australia gas pipeline present new opportunities for long-term growth.
Australian support to PNG is guided by the PNG-Australia Development Cooperation Strategy 2006-2010 and focuses on four central themes: improved governance and state building; sustainable economic growth and productivity; improved stability and service delivery; and fighting HIV/AIDS. Australia is developing a performance-based partnership with PNG that is underpinned by the new country strategy and performance framework.
Australia continues to assist PNG with economic and public sector reforms including implementation of the PNG Government’s Public Sector Reform Strategy and efforts to review and rationalise public expenditure. Other assistance covers corporate planning, provincial financial management and payroll integrity. Australia also supports the Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP). Which focuses on action to address corruption and seeks to improve economic management and growth, law and order, and border control and transport security.
Australia assists key agencies in the law and justice sector and community organisations in accordance with priorities set by PNG's National Law and Justice Policy and Plan of Action, and Medium Term Development Strategy 2005-2010.
Australia is helping PNG achieve economic growth which engages rural populations as both contributors and beneficiaries. Australia is providing significant assistance to PNG’s primary agricultural research and development institutions through the PNG-Australia Agricultural Research and Development Support Facility.
Australia assists infrastructure development through the Transport Sector Support Program to address PNG’s transport infrastructure constraints. Strengthening the private sector remains an important component of Australia’s approach in PNG. In addition to investment in infrastructure and rural development, Australia is working with the private sector and with the ADB to develop small and medium size enterprises in PNG.
Australia supports PNG’s National Education Plan 2005-2014 and assists PNG to improve education delivery in areas such as teacher training, curriculum development and infrastructure maintenance. Australia works closely with other donors to support improvements in PNG’s health sector, including through capacity building and training delivered to key health sector providers, delivery of clinical health services and training of local staff.
Australia is assisting Bougainvilleans and the Government of PNG to implement autonomy in Bougainville. Australia provides practical assistance to the autonomous government for economic development, with the aim to support self reliance and stability.
HIV/AIDS prevalence in PNG is approaching 2% of the adult population. Australia supports the implementation of PNG’s National Action Plan on HIV/AIDS. In particular, the aid program is addressing gender aspects of HIV/AIDS including domestic violence; support for primary health care services to handle sexually transmitted infections; expanded prevention and behavioural change programs; and support for stakeholders, including government and community-based organisations.
Most countries in the Pacific region have under-resourced institutions and narrow economic and resource bases. They suffer from small size, remoteness from major markets and vulnerability to natural disasters. Melanesian countries, in particular, have large numbers of young working-age people and low economic growth, leading to high unemployment and increased poverty. Australia has bilateral aid programs with a number of Pacific island nations including Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Kiribati and Tonga. It provides assistance to micro-states including Cook Islands, Niue, Tuvalu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Tokelau and Marshall Islands.
Australia’s Pacific Regional Aid Strategy 2004-2009 provides a framework for assistance to the Pacific to support its development goals. The strategy focuses on economic growth; effective, accountable and democratic government; strengthened law, justice and security; and enhanced service delivery.
Pacific 2020 is an initiative supported by Australia to foster dialogue and debate on actions to accelerate economic growth in the Pacific, PNG and East Timor. Pacific 2020 provides practical policy guidance for Pacific island countries on realising opportunities and managing challenges in nine critical growth areas:
As a means to accelerate economic growth in the Pacific, Australia, through a new Pacific Land Mobilisation program, will contribute to research on the difficult issue of land tenure and disseminate information on innovative land mobilisation practices. Where there is clear demand, Australia will work with Pacific partners to deliver innovations and improvements in land tenure arrangements.
Australia will support regional governance solutions, where appropriate, to foster greater stability and cooperation. Australian support for the Pacific Plan, endorsed by Pacific leaders in October 2005, includes strengthening regional audit arrangements, establishing a regional ombudsman’s office, and building country and regional statistical systems.
Australia is establishing an Australia-Pacific Technical College to deliver Australian standard qualifications to the Pacific, and contribute to the upgrading of technical skills. Pacific island economies will benefit from a larger skilled workforce to support economic growth; and graduates will benefit from greater employment prospects in both domestic and regional labour markets.
Australia is assisting the Pacific to address its environmental challenges such as changing sea levels and climate variability. A new environment strategy which is under development will focus on climate change and adaptation, freshwater management and strengthening environmental regulatory regimes.
Australia will continue to take a leadership role in promoting expanded access to HIV/AIDS treatment. Australia will also continue its assistance to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, including through programs to support surveillance, behavioural change and community-based programs. Australia is `assisting Pacific countries prepare for emerging diseases, including Avian Influenza, with a particular focus on strengthening the capacity of regional and national systems to respond to potential outbreaks.
Australia is supporting Solomon Islands as it emerges from a history of recent upheavals and challenges with a view to establishing positive patterns for long-term growth and development. Development assistance is provided through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and through a bilateral aid program. Australia’s contribution to RAMSI involves broad Australian Government expertise.
Australia’s aid program supports long-term stability for Vanuatu by accelerating economic growth and improving governance. A major governance initiative focuses on supporting necessary structural reforms and government policies that promote economic growth and improve services for the people of Vanuatu.
Australia is working with the Fiji Government and other donors to promote economic growth and stability, in particular by strengthening the enabling environment for private sector development. Equally important is supporting Fiji’s own public sector reform agenda, with a focus on financial management, planning and human resource development.
The East Asian region has enjoyed strong economic growth and reductions in poverty levels. The proportion of people living on less than US$1 per day in East Asia dropped from 58% in 1981 to 15% in 2001. This trend continues, largely due to growth in China. Yet despite this progress, East Asia remains home to 585 million people living on less than US$2 per day. Many parts of the region lack economic opportunities and suffer high poverty rates. Australia has bilateral programs with several East Asian countries including Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, East Timor and Laos.
Australia supports regional initiatives to address and manage threats such as pandemics, natural disasters and transnational crime (including people smuggling, illegal fishing, drug trafficking and money laundering). These threats require national as well as transnational responses.
Australia provides a valuable contribution to addressing HIV/AIDS in the region. Australia’s regional assistance will support the reduction of HIV-related harm associated with injecting drug use, improve treatment for injecting drug users and strengthen national HIV/AIDS policy-making and programming.
Australia is addressing corruption through further developing its anti-corruption strategy to encourage the rule of law, promote improved public sector management and strengthen civil society. Australia is also working with the World Bank to address corruption in natural resource management and infrastructure, and supports the OECD’s Anti-Corruption Initiative for the Asia-Pacific.
Australia is supporting studies on regional integration. The aid program is working with ASEAN, multilateral development banks and other key donors to pilot activities in regional security, private investment, infrastructure development and donor coordination.
Australian support through the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development has made a major contribution to international relief and reconstruction efforts in Aceh and other tsunami-affected areas, as well as to broader development in Indonesia. The program aims to improve economic and public sector management, rebuild essential infrastructure and enhance economic growth. Ongoing assistance will be provided to support the education and health sectors address communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
In the Philippines, Australia’s development priorities are: economic governance; security and stability; and addressing rural poverty in the south. Australia is laying the foundation for performance-based initiatives which will support health, education and infrastructure investments. Australia continues to support activities to promote security and stability.
Australia’s aid program to Vietnam seeks to strengthen economic growth through improving private sector development and facilitating economic integration. Australia’s development cooperation program supports Vietnam’s Five Year Socio-Economic Development Plan 2006-2010.
Australia’s strategy for development cooperation with Cambodia has three themes: strengthening the rule of law; increasing the productivity and incomes of the rural poor (particularly in the agriculture sector); and reducing the vulnerability of the poor to natural disasters.
Australia is assisting East Timor build institutions for the efficient use of new resource-based revenues. Australia supports effective and accountable planning, budgeting and expenditure management to improve public sector management. Australia is also committed to supporting peace and stability in East Timor, following the civil unrest in mid-2006.
Australia is assisting Pakistan through the commitment of 500 new scholarships for study in Australia. These scholarships will be provided over the next five years through AusAID in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training. Australia’s support to Pakistan’s reconstruction efforts following the South Asian earthquake in October 2005 includes the rebuilding of education and health facilities.
In Bangladesh, Australia is supporting education and fostering stronger governance through regional and bilateral mechanisms. In Sri Lanka, Australia is building consensus for durable peace through international NGOs, UN agencies and local partners, and is providing assistance to communities affected by conflict. Australian aid to India is based on mutual strategic interest and providing Australian skills and expertise where they can offer most value.
Africa and the Middle East
Australia has a strong record in responding to humanitarian situations in Africa and will continue to help ease the impact of humanitarian crises. The Government is working with the World Food Program, UN Children’s Fund, the World Bank and the UK Department for International Development to facilitate HIV/AIDS prevention and care, provide for vulnerable children, improve water and sanitation, and enhance food security.
Australia supports the Afghanistan Compact which provides a road map for building a stable and democratic state. Australia is involved in international efforts to support security and stability in Afghanistan. Australian assistance will help rebuild government institutions, provide further support for human rights, and deliver critical health and education services.
Australia will provide further assistance to Iraq to support international efforts in establishing a viable and stable democracy. Australian aid assistance to Iraq includes significant recognition of bilateral debt relief. Other assistance focuses on strengthening governance and institutional capacity in key ministries.
Australia partners with UN agencies, international NGOs and other multilateral agencies to support humanitarian activities which deliver relief and essential services to vulnerable communities in Lebanon and Palestine.
Emergency, humanitarian and refugee programs
Recent events in the Asia-Pacific underscore the high degree of vulnerability of regional countries relation to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 167,000 people and caused up to US$1.2b in damage to productive sectors. The May 2006 earthquake in Yogyakarta, Indonesia killed at least 5,782 people, injured more than 33,000 and left more than 200,000 homeless. In the Pacific, cyclones and other natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, are an ongoing concern. Australia’s humanitarian, emergency and refugee programs contribute significantly to reducing the impact of conflict and natural and other disasters on vulnerable groups.
The aid program is strengthening its partnerships with Australian institutions. These partnerships draw in expertise and personnel from both state government and Australian Government agencies, and from the volunteer, health and business sectors. Australia is also bolstering partner-country disaster and emergency response capabilities.
Australia provides core support for key humanitarian agencies such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. Australia maintains a significant partnership with the WFP and works closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Through the International Refugee Fund, Australia helps to address the needs of people displaced by conflict.
The Australian Government actively encourages the World Bank and ADB to focus on policies and initiatives that will benefit developing countries in its region. These international financial institutions are principal partners in the region given their financial resources, specialist skills and important roles in global development policy.
Australia continues to support the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. This provides multilateral debt relief to the world’s poorest and most heavily indebted countries which have demonstrated commitment to reform. Australia is providing a substantial up-front contribution to finance its share of multilateral debt relief through the G8 Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.
Australia is committed to the Global Environment Facility which supports projects in developing countries concerning biodiversity, climate change, international waters, the ozone layer, land degradation and persistent organic pollutants. Australia also supports the Multilateral Fund for the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Support for UN development agencies extends the reach of Australia’s aid program. These organisations mobilise and coordinate resources on a scale beyond the capacity of individual donors and play a significant role in consensus building on development issues. Australia supports core UN agencies that play a significant global developmental role. Australia is strengthening its engagement with UN partners that focus on HIV/AIDS, emerging infectious diseases, women and children’s health, and good governance.
Australia’s support for Commonwealth organisations will focus on the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation which provides assistance to member countries - many of them small island developing nations.
Non-government, volunteer and community programs
NGOs play an important role in the delivery of Australian aid. They mobilise public support for development and, through their networks in partner countries, strengthen civil society and provide specialist skills. By assisting the development of local communities, NGOs can help build sustainability and enhance ownership of the development process. The AusAID-NGO Cooperation Program supports accredited Australian NGOs to undertake cost effective, practical and direct poverty reduction activities. The aid program is developing ties with community-based organisations, professional bodies, businesses, and local government institutions to diversify its range of partners in addressing regional development challenges.