Overview of Australia's aid program to Tuvalu

How we are helping

2014/15 Bilateral Outcome
$6.6 million

2015/16 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$6.6 million

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$10.2 million

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $10.2 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Tuvalu in 2015–16. This will include an estimated $6.6 million in bilateral funding to Tuvalu managed by 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 2015–16 Australia will provide an estimated $2.3 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 2015–16, 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 partner with UNICEF to improve the quality of education and learning outcomes of over 3000 school children in Tuvalu ($100,000 in 2015–16). Australia also provides 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. In 2015–16, Australia will contribute an estimated $1 million to support Tropical Cyclone Pam long-term recovery efforts and will provide an estimated $126,000 to maintain desalination plants that supplement Tuvalu’s fresh water supplies.

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.

Our results

Our results for 2014–15 will be updated later this year.  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 2014–15 we assisted Tuvalu to strengthen the quality of basic education by supporting training of 180 teachers in school planning (122), data collection and analysis (33) and a teacher competency framework (25). Australia also supported Tuvalu to strengthen early grade literacy and to reform school management.
  • In 2015, Australia awarded 15 university scholarships to Tuvaluans and provided scholarships for nine students to enroll in vocational training at the Australia Pacific Technical College. 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.

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 and strengthen its economic and environmental resilience.

Recently we have broadened our support for labour migration by expanding opportunities for Tuvalu workers under the Pacific Seasonal Worker Programme. The programme, 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 new Pacific Microstates – Northern Australia Worker Pilot Programme. This new five year pilot programme will provide up to 250 citizens from Tuvalu, Kiribati and Nauru with access to a multiyear visa to work in northern Australia.

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).