Overview of Australia's aid program to Tuvalu

How we are helping

2015-16 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$9.1 million

2016-17 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$6.6 million

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$9.2 million

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $9.2 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Tuvalu in 2016-17. This will include an estimated $6.6 million in bilateral funding to Tuvalu managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Australia has a longstanding, cooperative relationship with Tuvalu based on shared development and security goals.  Australia is the largest aid donor to Tuvalu; our aid comprises about 33 per cent of total ODA to Tuvalu (excluding Taiwan).  Australia is committed to strengthening Tuvalu’s economic and environmental resilience development through our aid program.

With gross national income per capita at USD5,840 per annum, Tuvalu’s prospects for economic growth are constrained by its distance from markets, small and dispersed population and vulnerability to both economic and environmental external shocks. Tuvalu has limited options to generate revenue. Its main sources of income are fishing licenses, aid, the leasing of Tuvalu’s ‘.tv’ internet domain name and distributions from the Tuvalu Trust Fund. The private sector is small and offers limited employment opportunities. Tuvaluans rely primarily on the public sector as their principal source of employment. Tuvalu also faces severe development challenges arising from limited education and work opportunities, and modest natural resources. Climate change impacts will exacerbate these development challenges.

In line with Australia’s aid policy and Tuvalu’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development, Australia will work with the Tuvalu Government to pursue the following objectives.

Objective 1: Good governance, economic growth and stability

Australia is working with the Government of Tuvalu and other development partners (Asian Development Bank, World Bank and New Zealand) to improve Tuvalu’s governance and economic prospects. In 2016–17 Australia will provide an estimated $2 million in payments and technical assistance to the Government of Tuvalu to improve economic and financial management.

Investments for governance

Objective 2: Education and human resources

Australia is supporting efforts to develop a skilled and educated Tuvalu workforce. In 2016–17, Australia will provide an estimated $1.8 million in direct funding to the Government of Tuvalu to build additional primary school facilities. We will also continue to work with the Government of Tuvalu to improve the quality of education and learning outcomes of over 3000 school children in Tuvalu ($1 million in 2016–17). Australia also provides an estimated $2 million on tertiary awards for Tuvaluans to study in Australia and in the region.

Investments for education and human resources

Objective 3: Environment and climate change

Australia is providing assistance to build Tuvalu’s resilience to climate change and to strengthen disaster risk management. Australia will contribute an estimated $1 million (2015–17) to support Tropical Cyclone Pam long-term recovery efforts. Australia has funded maintenance works on both the desalination plants that supplement Tuvalu’s fresh water supplies as well as water tanks in Funafuti to increase Tuvalu’s water storage capacity and delivery of water to the public during dry times.

Investments for environment and climate change

 Cross cutting issues

Australia is working to address issues of gender equality across all our investments. The Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Country Plan for Tuvalu aims to reduce the incidence of gender based violence, improve the economic empowerment of women, and increase the participation of women in public life and decision making. It forms part of the regional Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program. Australia will provide an estimated $1.8 million in technical assistance for implementing the first three years of the Country Plan for Tuvalu (July 2015 to June 2018). Supplementary support from regional organisations will be provided through the regional Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program allocation. A Gender and Social Inclusion adviser based in Tuvalu will guide this work in mainstreaming gender equality.

Our results

Australia's aid program has contributed to:

Objective 1: Good governance, economic growth and stability

  • Since 2012, Australia has supported the Government of Tuvalu to undertake important economic reforms, raise revenue and prioritise public expenditure. This contribution has strengthened public financial management practices, and increased the transparency and accountability of government services.

Objective 2: Education and human resources

  • In 2015-16 we assisted the Government of Tuvalu to improve the quality of education in primary and secondary schools by providing additional teaching resources (in science, English and mathematics) and supporting a range of school management reforms, including upgrades to the curriculum and the professional development of teachers. These reforms included new minimum quality service standards, which ensure all school children receive the same quality of education (eg. teacher to children ratios, sanitation standards). Schools receive small grants to assist them to implement their improvement plans to meet the standards.
  • In 2016, Australia awarded 16 university scholarships to Tuvaluans to study in Australia and the region. A tracer study of Tuvaluan scholarship recipients over 2008–12 showed that returned Australia Awards alumni are leading development reforms and contributing positively to Tuvalu’s development.

Objective 3: Environment and climate change

  • Since 2012, Australia has continuously supported the Government of Tuvalu to maintain a 60,000 litre desalination plant gifted by Australia to help Tuvalu respond to a serious drought in that year. This contribution has supplemented clean water supplies in Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu. Australia also supported the Government of Tuvalu to establish nurseries in all islands in Tuvalu to improve food security, through a partnership with UNDP.
  • Australia supported Tuvalu to recover from the destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam. Together with the Red Cross, Australia immediately released pre-positioned water and medical supplies and deployed experts in logistics and water and sanitation. Australia is supporting longer-term recovery and reconstruction efforts in consultation with the Government of Tuvalu, including support to improve health services, re-establish crops and to strengthen the operations of the Tuvalu Red Cross and Tuvalu Government Disaster and Relief Coordination Unit. Australia has also mobilised an adviser to improve Tuvalu’s preparedness and response to disasters as well as to strengthen coordination of its climate change activities.

Our changing program

Australia’s proposed aid objectives are guided by priorities agreed with the Government of Tuvalu and an assessment of key constraints to economic growth and poverty reduction. They reflect an understanding of where our aid can most effectively support Tuvalu’s development, strengthen its economic and environmental resilience and complement support provided by other development partners working in Tuvalu.

We have broadened our support for labour mobility by expanding opportunities for Tuvaluan workers under the Pacific Seasonal Worker Programme. The program, led by the Department of Employment, connects Pacific island workers with Australian employers experiencing labour shortages, typically in rural and remote areas. This benefits both parties and the average worker remits around $5,000 during a six-month placement. Australia has also established the Pacific Microstates – Northern Australia Worker Pilot Program. This five-year pilot program will provide up to 250 citizens from Tuvalu, Kiribati and Nauru with access to a multiyear visa to work in northern Australia.

Last Updated: 28 March 2017
Tuvalu's first female doctors (credit: DFAT).
Fetuvalu High School on Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu. Australia is helping the Tuvaluan Government strengthen its education system, and providing water tanks to ensure schools stay open during dry periods (credit: DFAT)
A water tank for Nuitau Primary School in Tuvalu being delivered (credit: DFAT).