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Five guiding themes shape Australia's efforts to assist developing countries to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development. These themes provide a lens through which aid is programmed and implemented:
Country and regional strategies are developed in consultation with partner governments. They are the primary means through which the guiding themes are translated into programs on the ground. Strategies take account of partner government priorities, Australia’s strengths, and the activities of other donors.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is the largest aid program Australia has with any one country. The aid program focuses on Papua New Guinea's long-term development needs. Principal objectives include enhancing the quality of governance, particularly with respect to the management of public expenditure; encouraging broad-based sustainable growth; and addressing the underlying causes of conflict and instability.
The main initiative in the Papua New Guinea governance program in 2003-04 is AusAID's participation with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank in the Government of Papua New Guinea's Public Expenditure and Rationalisation Review. The aid program also supports service delivery in the areas of health, education, and water and sanitation. Assistance for law and justice reform with an emphasis on local ownership and providing ongoing assistance to support Papua New Guinea's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic are also key priorities. Australia's assistance is also helping Bougainville's shift to an autonomous province and supports long-term development goals of stability and economic growth.
The Pacific region
Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are notable for their cultural, physical and political diversity. Their remoteness from global markets, narrow economic and natural resource bases, and vulnerability to natural disasters constitute a daunting challenge in maintaining positive development paths in a dynamic global environment. The serious effects of recent political instability and internal conflict, particularly in Melanesian countries, are making the task of poverty reduction and sustainable development even more difficult.
Australia maintains a close relationship with PICs and is committed to long-term engagement to assist with their national development efforts. Australia is one of the region's major donors and our goal is to assist PICs achieve the maximum possible degree of self-reliance. To achieve this, a new Pacific strategy for 2003-06 will focus on assistance on economic reform and strengthening governance, support for law and justice, democratic institutions and conflict resolution, and service provision, including in regional and provincial areas.
In the Pacific, Australia has bilateral aid programs with the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu. Australia also provides technical assistance and other aid, including commodities and scholarships to other Pacific states including Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, Tokelau and Nauru.
Australia places a high priority on regional peace, stability and security in the Pacific. Functioning law and justice systems are important given the vulnerability of some countries within the region to illicit commercial ventures and trans-national crime, including money laundering, people smuggling and terrorism.
Achieving a return to stability in Solomon Islands is a key focus for Australia in 2003-04. The aid program is playing a central role in Australia's strengthened assistance to Solomon Islands and is expected to increase significantly. The expanded aid program will build on ongoing activities which, since 2000, have been addressing the country's most critical problems. Priorities include: strengthening law and justice; improving economic management; maintaining access to basic services, especially health; and supporting peace building and community and civil society development.
The aid program in the Pacific will also reflect the increased focus on regional stability through bilateral law and justice activities in Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Nauru. A priority is to improve the functioning of legal, justice and accountability institutions such as police forces, attorney-general and courts. Bilateral assistance will be provided for customs, immigration, border control and electoral activities in selected countries.
Pacific regional organisations play an important role in allowing their island members to benefit from economies of scale in accessing technical and capacity building assistance. Australia is a key contributor to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the South Pacific Regional Environment Program, the University of the South Pacific, the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the South Pacific Geoscience Commission and the Fiji School of Medicine.
Achieving economic growth and poverty reduction remains a key challenge for many East Asian countries in 2003-04. Key factors will be the health of the world economy, security and the demand for regional exports. Australia promotes economic growth and aims to secure a more conducive environment for development and poverty reduction for partner countries in East Asia. In 2003-04, the aid program will work with regional partners to improve governance, promote trade and investment, and counter trans-national threats such as disease, drugs, illegal people movements and terrorism.
In East Asia, Australia has bilateral programs with Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, China, Cambodia, East Timor, Thailand, Laos and Burma. The aid program in Indonesia is Australia's second largest. Over the period 2003-04, Australian aid to Indonesia is focusing on improving economic and public sector management; strengthening the institutions and practices of democracy; enhancing security and stability; and increasing the accessibility and quality of basic social services. In East Timor, Australia is making major investments in building the Government’s capacity in planning, finance, fisheries and the marine environment. Australia also works closely with other donors to support East Timor's post-independence National Development Plan. In Vietnam, Australia is building capacity in trade policy and development, providing better access to clean water and sanitation, and strengthening provincial government service delivery. In the Philippines, the aid program will focus on strengthening the delivery of basic education, health and local government services, and continue to support multilateral peace building, conflict resolution and recovery efforts in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao. In China, Australia will commence a new program of governance assistance and also focus on water-related projects in flood management, improved agricultural productivity and HIV/AIDS prevention.
Working with effective non-government organisations (NGOs) and UN agencies, Australian assistance to Burma is addressing the dire humanitarian crisis, particularly the health emergency that continues to engulf the country.
The Asia regional program promotes good governance, trade and economic integration and solutions to security-related challenges that cut across national boundaries. Support is focused on prevention of HIV/AIDS, customs, e-commerce, trade facilitation, food quality and counter terrorism measures.
South Asia contains nearly half of the world's most impoverished people. Australian bilateral assistance is provided in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. Australian aid in the region over the period 2003-07 will move towards delivering aid through more flexible and less resource intensive mechanisms, predominantly via international organisations, the Australian Development Scholarships Program, NGOs and regional mechanisms.
Australian programs continue to assist South Asian countries in their efforts to promote good governance and improve basic service delivery at the state and community level. The aid program also supports South Asia regional programs in microfinance, arsenic reduction, trade facilitation, and reforms of water and sanitation policies and practices. Australia is assisting in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, particularly in the eradication of land mines and the rebuilding of governance institutions.
Africa and the Middle East
The international community has mounted a concerted effort to assist Africa in its enormous challenge of achieving economic growth and poverty reduction. Australian assistance is increasingly channelled through international organisations and NGOs with well-established expertise in Africa. Addressing communicable diseases, particularly the HIV/AIDS epidemic remains a high priority.
In the Middle East, Australia responds to urgent humanitarian needs, and the rebuilding of livelihoods. Assistance to the Palestinian territories will be delivered primarily through multilateral agencies and NGOs. Australia will provide practical assistance to peace and recovery in Iraq, particularly in agriculture, food security, water and health.
Emergency, humanitarian and refugee aid
Australia's emergency, humanitarian and refugee programs lessen the adverse impact of conflict and natural disasters on vulnerable populations, supporting the promotion of peace and security.
Increased funding in 2003-04 for humanitarian, emergency and refugee programs will enhance the aid program's ability to respond quickly, flexibly and effectively to humanitarian needs resulting from disasters and conflict. While humanitarian crises within Australia's immediate region are a priority for assistance, other significant demands are likely to include further humanitarian relief and reconstruction assistance to Iraq, post-conflict support for Afghanistan and food needs following severe drought in southern Africa.
Multilateral and international organisations
Australia’s support for multilateral and international organisations complements and reinforces Australia's bilateral aid efforts. Australia supports a range of development banks and in 2003-04 will continue to work with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank to progress their reform agendas and ensure their ongoing engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Cooperation at both a policy and a program level between the multilateral development banks and Australia helps to increase the impact of our aid. In Papua New Guinea, the World Bank, ADB, and Australia are developing a coherent joint strategy for future engagement. Australia is also working closely with the World Bank on information and communication technologies, most prominently through the $200m Virtual Colombo Plan.
Australian aid also supports the efforts to address global environmental concerns, including climate change, biodiversity loss, degradation of international waters, ozone depletion, and persistent organic pollutants. In 2003-04, Australia will contribute to the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund to assist in these efforts.
The aid program monitors UN effectiveness, formalises strategic partnerships and strengthens engagement with UN organisations to enhance aid outcomes in the Asia-Pacific region. The World Food Program and UNICEF remain important partners for Australian assistance.
Non-government organisation (NGOs) and volunteer programs
NGOs play an important complementary role in delivering a high quality aid program. The Australian aid program works with NGOs on improving program delivery, enhancing administration and accountability as well as supporting improvements in project design, management and evaluation.
Australia continues to foster community involvement in the aid program through support for volunteers. Funding for the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program has increased from $6.2m in 2002-03 to $7m in 2003-04.
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
ACIAR is a statutory authority within the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio. As part of Australia’s aid program it assists Australian and developing country researchers, institutions and international research centres to develop solutions to agricultural problems in order to improve livelihoods through sustainable increases in agricultural productivity and enhanced natural resources management to the benefit of developing countries and Australia. Government appropriation for ACIAR in 2002-03 was $46.3m. The Centre focuses its research funding on the Asia-Pacific region and also supports international agricultural research centres.
In 2002-03, ACIAR funded 221 research projects. The Centre also supported 54 Fellowships allowing students from developing countries to study for postgraduate qualifications in Australia. Sixteen training courses were held for scientists involved in ACIAR-supported research. Twenty scientific publications, including monographs, proceedings of workshops and technical reports were published.
Further information can be obtained from the ACIAR web site, <http://www.aciar.gov.au>. The site allows visitors to search for project information by country, or by research discipline and to find out about ACIAR activities.