Overview of Australia's aid program to the Republic of the Marshall Islands

How we are helping

2015-16 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome for North Pacific
$10.0 million

2016-17 Bilateral Budget Estimate for North Pacific
$5.0 million

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimate for North Pacific
$9.8 million

Australia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) share a common interest in supporting economic and human development. The two countries enjoy a close bilateral relationship supported by shared regional interests, particularly ensuring maritime and transnational security, and the sustainable management of fisheries. RMI is a vulnerable small island state. Two-thirds of the country’s population is concentrated on Majuro and Kwajalein Atolls. Many Marshallese live in poverty, have poor health, and cannot access basic services such as clean water and reliable energy supplies. As a regional neighbour, Australia is well placed to work closely with the Marshall Islands Government to support RMI’s development efforts.

Australia’s aid program in the North Pacific is focused on RMI, the Republic of Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The Australian Government will provide an estimated $9.8 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the North Pacific in 2016-17. This will include an estimated $5 million in bilateral funding to the North Pacific.

Australia’s regional programs complement our bilateral programs across the Pacific. Our regional programs assist RMI including through: support for fisheries management, via the Forum Fisheries Agency; support to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of severe climate, tidal and oceanographic events through the Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific; and support for strengthening governance and accountability through the Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration, the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre and the Pacific Regional Audit Initiative.

Australia’s bilateral aid investments in RMI support the following objectives:

Objective 1: Increasing access to clean water and sanitation

Australia is working with RMI and the Asian Development Bank to establish an integrated water supply and sanitation system on the island of Ebeye, aiming to significantly improve the health, social and economic situation for Ebeye residents. Australia is also supporting an adviser to help improve management practices within the Majuro Water and Sewage Company and implement the National Water and Sanitation Policy.

Objective 2: Strengthening education systems

Australia is providing two Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism advisers to the Ministry of Education in the Marshall Islands to support the introduction of a new Public School System. Central to systemic reform, their work has focused on policy formulation and promulgation, financial management, the establishment of an education management information system, and the provision of advice in relation to numeracy and literacy. Through our Australia Awards Scholarships and Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships programs we are also helping to build national capacity to drive change and respond to development priorities by providing scholarships for Marshallese to study in Australia and the region.

Objective 3: Achieving gender equality and enhancing women’s empowerment

Australia is working to address issues of gender equality in RMI by funding priority initiatives under the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development RMI Country Plan 2014–16. This is part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development regional program which commits $320 million over 10 years to improve the political, economic and social opportunities of Pacific women in 14 Pacific countries. The RMI country plan aims to strengthen civil society action for gender equality, reduce the incidence of gender-based violence, and expand support services including establishing a domestic violence counselling service. A key implementing partner is the non-government organisation WUTMI (Women United Together Marshall Islands). Australia is providing core funding to WUTMI, along with an adviser to assist develop counselling and support services for victims of gender-based violence

Our results

Our results for 2015–16 will be updated later this year. Australia's aid program has contributed to:

  • the delivery, in early 2016, of essential water storage, desalination units and hygiene kits for the most severely drought-affected areas across RMI (in partnership with the International Organization for Migration)
  • the development of a National Water and Sanitation Policy
  • procurement of 380 water tanks for households on Ebeye
  • the introduction of an education management information system and school accreditation system
  • across both RMI and FSM, approximately 10,000 school-aged children in up to 50 schools and surrounding communities becoming more aware of climate change and disaster risks; and
  • 32 Australian scholarship awardees from RMI completing their tertiary studies in Australia and the region.

Our changing program

Our changing aid program in RMI reflects the priorities of the RMI Government and Australia’s aid policy. The program will focus on two priorities - building resilience and enhancing human development – and we will work in close collaboration with the Government of RMI and other trusted development partners. Our key strategic objectives will be to: increase access to clean water and sanitation for residents on Ebeye; strengthen the national education system; foster human resource development; and enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The Australian bilateral aid program for RMI will also continue to fund priority gender equality initiatives under the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development RMI Country Plan 2015–18, under the Australian Government’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development regional program.

Our aid investments focus on key enablers for economic growth, social stability and development in RMI. We will work together to ensure development resources are effectively and transparently managed.

Last Updated: 3 May 2016