Overview of Australia's aid program to Sri Lanka

How we are helping

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$29.0 million

2017-18 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$19.9 million

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$27.7 million

The Australian Government is providing an estimated $27.7 million in total ODA to Sri Lanka in 2017-18. That includes an estimated $19.9 million in bilateral funding managed by DFAT.

Sri Lanka has experienced strong economic growth for more than a decade. Sri Lanka has reduced its rate of extreme poverty from 28.8 per cent of the population in 1995 to 6.7 per cent in 2013. However, poverty and economic marginalisation remain in many rural areas particularly in districts directly affected by the civil conflict that ended in 2009. As the Sri Lankan economy continues to grow, opportunities for greater two-way trade and investment will increase.

Australia's aid program assists Sri Lanka's progress as a secure, stable and prosperous partner in the Indian Ocean region. We are transitioning our program toward an economic partnership approach, with the aim of maximising the number of Sri Lankans who benefit from economic growth. This will also contribute to our long-standing commitment to furthering reconciliation. The following three objectives define our Aid Investment Plan for Sri Lanka:

Objective 1: Expand economic opportunities for the poor 

Australia will identify and invest in target sectors and improvements to value chains that offer the highest potential to benefit the poor, especially women. We will work closely with the private sector and government to improve the relevance and quality of skills, technology, regulations and policies which will increase and stabilise the incomes of the poor.

Expand economic opportunities for the poor in Sri Lanka

Objective 2: Support government to be more responsive to the needs of citizens and the private sector

Australia will invest to improve the responsiveness of all levels of government to the needs of citizens and the private sector. This includes investments in innovative reforms to raise revenue, developing service delivery benchmarks, better targeting of services and making it easier to register small businesses. Our investments will better equip ordinary citizens and small businesses to influence policy.

Support government to be more responsive to the needs of citizens and the private sector in Sri Lanka

Objective 3: Increase gender equality

We will invest in overcoming the causes of gender inequality, including social exclusion and inter-communal and domestic-based violence. Our investments will expand women's opportunities to earn income and accumulate economic assets, increase the representation of women at all levels of decision-making and increase access to support services and justice for survivors of violence.

Increase gender equality in Sri Lanka

Our results

  • completed construction of 735km of access roads, 86 market places, 58 recreation parks, 68 drainage systems, 10 community water supply projects and 10 rural electrification schemes in partnership with local authorities in the northern and eastern provinces and four adjoining districts between 2012 and 2016.
  • helped the government to prepare a national tourism development strategy to attract US$3 billion in foreign direct investment, US$2.75 billion in foreign exchange and create 500,000 tourism related jobs.
  • invested in business growth directly creating over 2,000 jobs and increasing incomes for 25,092 households, reaching up to 97,860 men, women and children between 2015 and 2017.
  • co-invested in public education reform, resulting in  80 per cent of all school-age children completing a full course of education in 2016 compared to 60 per cent of children in some education divisions in 2011;
  • helped the Forestry Department and communities to regenerate 23,000 hectares of forest and enable over 90,000 people, including war widows, to adopt innovative agricultural practices to increase their income and protect the environment long-term between 2012 and 2016;
  • trained 148 women representing 15 political parties across 22 of Sri Lanka's 25 districts to contest upcoming local government elections; and
  • endowed 151 new Australia Awards for Sri Lankan students to study in Australia in 2017, following a competitive selection process.


Infographic depicting how Australia has helped
Australia supports the rebuilding and renovation of schools and the improving of educator skills through its investments in the World Bank-managed Transforming Schools Education Project (AUD 50 million) and UNICEF’s Child Friendly Schools Project (AUD 2.9 million).


Australia supports the construction of roads and marketplaces, installation of rural electrification infrastructure and building of clean water infrastructure through its investment in the World Bank-managed North and East Local Services Improvement Project (NELSIP) (AUD 26 million).

Australia supported de-mining through a series of Humanitarian Mine Action investments (total AUD 19.6 million) between 2009 and 2015. Australia has supported, and continues to support, job creation and increases economic activity through a range of investments, including NELSIP, the Australian Community Rehabilitation Program (AUD 48 million), the Economic Opportunities for the Poor program (AUD 30 million) and the Community Forestry Program (AUD 5 million).

Australia supports local authorities to improve the quality of their governance through the Subnational Governance Program (AUD 6 million) and the Strengthening Northern Provincial Council project (AUD 550,000)

Our changing program

With an estimated total ODA budget in 2017-18 of $27.7 million, the aid program will catalyse reform and leverage additional resources from the Sri Lankan government, the private sector and the community sector. The program will continue its transition from post-conflict reconstruction to supporting economic growth and improving governance, reflecting Sri Lanka's emergence as a middle income country. We will focus on enabling and equipping other development actors – including the Sri Lankan government, private sector and civil society – to deliver sustainable economic growth.

Last Updated: 22 September 2017