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

How we are helping

2014/15 Bilateral Outcome for North Pacific
$4.7 million

2015/16 Bilateral Budget Estimate for North Pacific
$5.0 million

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate for North Pacific
$12.0 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 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 services such as safe water and 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. The Australian Government will provide an estimated $12.0 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the North Pacific in 2015–16. This will include an estimated $5 million in bilateral funding to the North Pacific. For RMI, Australia will provide an estimated $4.5 million total ODA in 2015–16, which will include an estimated $2.1 million in bilateral aid and an estimated $2.4 million from regional programs.

Australia’s regional programs are closely linked and complementary to 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: Increased access to clean water and sanitation (up to $5 million from 2015 -2019)

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 who is helping to improve management practices within the Majuro Water and Sewage Company and who supported the drafting of RMI’s National Water and Sanitation Policy (endorsed in 2014). 

Objective 2: Education

Australia is providing a Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism adviser to the Ministry of Education in the Marshall Islands to provide technical assistance in the development of policies and procedures to support the introduction of a new Public School System in the Marshall Islands in accordance with recent changes to the RMI Government’s legislation. The adviser has also drafted a Child Protection Policy, developed a new Education Management Information System and provided advice on literacy and numeracy programs. Through our Australia Awards Scholarships and Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships programs we are also helping to build RMI’s workforce by providing scholarships for Marshallese to study in Australia and the region.

Objective 3: Gender equality

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).

Our results

Our results for 2014–15 will be updated later this year.  Australia's aid program has contributed to:

  • An Australian adviser leading the renegotiation for RMI’s long-term fuel supply contract, resulting in an annual saving of an estimated $3.7 million.
  • Support for a National Water and Sanitation Policy which was adopted by Cabinet early in 2014.
  • Procurement of 380 water tanks for households on Ebeye.
  • 31 Australian scholarship awardees from RMI completing tertiary studies in Australia and the region.

Our changing program

Our changing aid program in RMI reflects the priorities of the RMI Government as well as Australia’s new aid policy. The program will have an increased focus on environmental and economic resilience to help RMI address the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.  A major water and sanitation project in Ebeye that Australia is co-funding with ADB will improve the supply of clean water, sanitation and street drainage for this overcrowded island of over 15,000 people, more than 50 per cent of whom are under the age of 18.  The project will also strengthen the operations of the Kwajalein Atoll Joint Utility Resource (KAJUR) to create a sustainable and efficient utility service for the people of Ebeye.

The Australian bilateral aid program for RMI will also ramp up funding for 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.