Overview of Australia's aid program to Tuvalu

How we are helping

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$8.7 million

2017-18 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$6.6 million

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$8.7 million

Australia has a longstanding, relationship with Tuvalu based on shared development and security goals. Australia is the third largest aid donor to Tuvalu; our aid makes up approximately 17 per cent of total ODA to Tuvalu. Australia is committed to strengthening Tuvalu's economic and environmental resilience development through our aid program.

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $8.7 million in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Tuvalu in 2017-18. This will include an estimated $6.6 million in bilateral funding managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

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. Gross national income per capita is USD5,840 per annum and Tuvalu has limited options to generate revenue. Its main sources of income are fishing licenses, aid, the leasing of '.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 Tuvalu 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 the country's governance and economic prospects.

Investments for governance

Objective 2: Education and human resources

Australia is supporting efforts to develop a skilled and educated Tuvalu workforce through providing $1.8 million on tertiary awards for Tuvaluans to study in Australia and in the region. In 2017–18, Australia will also provide an estimated $1.25 million for the Basic Education Support Program to enhance access to quality education, curriculum development and teacher development.

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 provided an estimated $1 million package (2015–17) to support long-term recovery efforts from the effects of Tropical Cyclone Pam. 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 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

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

Objective 2: Education and human resources

  • In 2016-17 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 provided 16 Australia Awards university scholarships to Tuvaluans to study in Australia and the region. A tracer study of Tuvaluan scholarship recipients over 2008–12 showed that returned graduates are leading development reforms and contributing positively to Tuvalu's development.

Objective 3: Environment and climate change

  • Australia has 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. Australia also supported Tuvalu to establish nurseries on 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.

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, benefitting both parties. 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: 9 May 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).