Overview of Australia's aid program to Sri Lanka

How we are helping

2014/15 Bilateral Outcome
$32.8 million

2015/16 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$19.9 million

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$28.9 million

The Australian Government is providing an estimated $28.9 million of total ODA to Sri Lanka in 2015-16. 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. While poverty and economic marginalisation remain in many rural areas – particularly in districts directly affected by the 1983-2009 civil conflict – overall, Sri Lanka has reduced its rates of extreme poverty from 28.8% of the population in 1995 to 6.7% in 2013. It is now approaching upper-middle income status. 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 make it easier for small businesses to register. 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

  • Delivered more than US$3.1 million in increased agricultural production from the establishment of public private partnerships under the Australian Community Rehabilitation Program from 2013 to 2015.  Six of our partners received the 2015 export award from the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka for this work.
  • Completed construction of 622.72km of access roads, 81 market places, 37 recreation parks, 52 drainage systems, 7 community water supply projects and 10 rural electrification schemes in partnership with local authorities in the north and east between 2012 and 2014.
  • Provided training for 32,322 teachers in partnership with the Ministry of Education and World Bank to help improve teaching and learning for Sri Lankan primary and secondary school students in 2014-15.
  • Ensured that women were equally represented on 100% of the 1,036 local management committees supported through our funding to the North East Local Services Improvement Project.
  • Provided access to safe water for more than 87,000 people through a public private partnership with World Vision, local government and 21 tea estates between 2013 and 2015.
  • Demined approximately 76 square kilometres of land, removing 2379 anti-personnel mines, 2577 unexploded ordinance and 1066 small arms and ammunitions in 2014-15.
  • Helped the Forestry Department and communities to regenerate 23,000 hectares of forest and enable over 90,000 people to adopt innovative agricultural practices to increase their income and protect the environment long-term between 2012 and 2015.

Our changing program

Australia has reduced the size of its aid program to Sri Lanka, commensurate with Sri Lanka’s emergence as a middle income country. With an estimated total ODA budget in 2015-16 of $27.3 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. The overall reduction in the aid program has been managed through the natural conclusion of existing projects, without the need for discontinuing projects ahead of schedule. We are focused on enabling and equipping other development actors – including the Sri Lankan government, private sector and civil society – to deliver sustainable economic growth.

Students from Kiriwaneliya Singla School (credit: DFAT).
Students wash their hands at Lindula Maha School (credit: DFAT).