Annual overview 2015-16: Africa

In 2015-16, $6.31 million was provided to 190 Direct Aid Program projects in Africa through our diplomatic missions in Abuja, Accra, Addis Ababa, Cairo, Harare, Lisbon, Madrid, Nairobi, Port Louis and Pretoria. These projects covered 47 countries.


The Australian High Commission in Abuja provided $980,000 across 25 projects. Twenty two of these projects were in Nigeria, two in Cameroon and one in Benin. Direct Aid Program (DAP) projects continued to support strategic responses to the humanitarian situation driven by the Boko Haram conflict in the north-eastern part of Nigeria, as well as parts of Niger and Cameroon. One such project has been working to improve the access of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to fuel efficient stoves and cooking fuels. This has cut down the risks faced in gathering firewood and resulted in less smoke related health issues in the pilot camp, as well as given some unemployed IDPs valuable life skills.

DAP also supported projects to improve gender equality and women's empowerment across Nigeria. One particular project is engaging men as allies in women's empowerment in Plateau state. Male traditional and religious leaders are being trained on women's legal rights, violence against women and the psychological trauma it produces, customs and customary law that limit women's progress, international and national laws that protect women, the role of women in an Islamic legal system, women's access to justice, and HIV and the dangers of substance abuse.

Young women at the Camp for Internally Displaced Persons, Malkohi, Yola North, Adamawa State Nigeria learning how to build clean energy cooking stoves
Young women at the Camp for Internally Displaced Persons, Malkohi, Yola North, Adamawa State Nigeria learning how to build clean energy cooking stoves through a DAP project. Credit: International Centre for Energy, Environment & Development


The Australian High Commission in Accra provided Direct Aid Program (DAP) funding totalling $820,000 for 22 projects in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Projects focused on poverty reduction, with priority given to food security and the extractives sector.  Other projects focused on governance, education, water, health and sanitation (WASH) and disability rights.

The Australian High Commission in Accra provided a DAP grant to the Association for Small African Projects in Burkina Faso (ASAP-BF) to help promote the use and adoption of modern technologies for beekeeping. ASAP-BF expects to help make beekeeping a more viable business and thereby increase incomes and improve living conditions (for beekeepers and their families), support the provision of safe, healthy honey for consumers, contribute to the preservation of bee life and the environment, and strengthen local capacity in honey production.

Cassava is a major tuber crop in the farming system of Ghana contributing significantly to food security and poverty reduction. DAP funds supported a project which equipped cassava processors with knowledge and skills to improve cassava handling, packaging and create market linkages. The project was implemented by the Ghana-Australia Alumni Association and has delivered major benefits in food security and the improvement of livelihoods.

Three women Cassava processors dipping scoop into cassava pot
Cassava growers in the Eastern and Greater Accra regions of Ghana work with members of the Ghana-Australia Alumni Association to improve their skills. Credit: Ghana-Australia Alumni Association

Addis Ababa

The Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa provided funds totalling $614,000 for 14 projects mainly focused on empowering youth. Ten projects were funded in Ethiopia, three projects in South Sudan and one in Central African Republic. Direct Aid Program (DAP) projects continued to focus on poverty reduction with priority given to children and youth education and life skills in Ethiopia and Central African Republic. In South Sudan, projects focused on the development of life skills for youth and strengthening civil society towards building peace and stability.

In Ethiopia, the Bahir Zaf Training Restaurant is part of the Tree Alliance group, a global social enterprise network providing vocational training to marginalised youth under the guidance of the not for profit organisation, Friends-International. Bahir Zaf is working in partnership with Retrak and Hope for Children Australia to identify underprivileged and marginalised youth for training and to gain valuable work experience. DAP funds will assist in ensuring these marginalised youth are employed through Bahir Zaf.

Four youths with chefs hats and white chef's uniforms receive training
Youths training at Bahir Zaf Training Restaurant, which has received DAP funding. Credit: Tom Partridge

DAP funds also supported the annual series of public lectures in Juba, South Sudan, organised by the Rift Valley Institute. These lectures are designed to promote public discussion of emerging political and cultural issues in South Sudan.


The Australian Embassy in Cairo provided $400 000 for eight projects―one project in Sudan (Khartoum), one in Eritrea and six in Egypt. The Direct Aid Program (DAP) funded projects focused on welfare improvement for low income communities including women and activities to support refugees in Egypt, healthcare for internally-displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan and enhancing medical services for remote communities in Eritrea.

DAP funds supported a trachoma elimination project in Eritrea delivered by the Fred Hollows Foundation. The project is run in partnership with the Asmara College of Health Sciences to develop a comprehensive training program for surgeons to conduct surgeries in remote communities across all six regions of Eritrea.

Refuge Egypt serves refugees, migrants and asylum seekers living in Egypt who have fled their original country of nationality due to war or disaster. The Happy Child Preschool provides the foundational literacy, numeracy, and social skills for access to further education, as well as the structure and the predictability all children need and serves more than 90 children annually. DAP funding was used by Refuge Egypt to refurbish the Happy Child Preschool.

Refugee children celebrate end of school year
Refugee Assistance DAP Project- Preschool end of school year celebration. Credit: Refugee Egypt


The Australian Embassy in Harare provided $950,000 for 30 projects in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Projects under the Direct Aid Program (DAP) focused on education, women's empowerment, disability inclusion, health, sports and culture, and infrastructure. A particular priority in 2015-16 was vulnerable and marginalised people including people living with disability, women, children, and remote and economically disadvantaged communities.

The Chisomo project (a tailoring workshop) for school graduates of the Home of Hope Orphanage in Mchinji, Malawi focused on manufacturing re-usable sanitary pads. DAP funding covered the establishment of workshop space, sewing equipment and materials, vocational training on entrepreneurial skills and a feminine hygiene education program. The funding also provided safe and stable accommodation for the girls in training. Additional DAP funding established an emergency newborn facility within the orphanage to support families caring for babies whose mothers died during childbirth.

Six young Malawian women holding products of their training
The Chisomo Project in Malawi – teaching vocational skills. Credit: Tom Chipeta, Home of Hope


The Australian Embassy in Lisbon provided $166,000 for 23 projects in Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau and SãoTomé and Príncipe. The Direct Aid Program (DAP) projects focused on basic and vocational training/education, environmental protection, good governance, health, income generation, poverty reduction, rural development, sanitation and water management.

One project in Cabo Verde purchased materials for a school garden as an educational tool thus creating awareness of environmental protection. A project in Guinea Bissau purchased and distributed 500 birth delivery kits and provided technical training on maternal and child health to appointed local community representatives. In São Tomé and Principe, DAP funds purchased life vests, GPSs and ovens to improve the working conditions of local fishermen and female fishmongers.

Ambassador Rayner and project coordinator Arlindo Morais inspecting  school garden project in Cabo Verde
Ambassador Rayner and project coordinator Arlindo Morais inspecting a school garden project in Cabo Verde. Credit: Australian Embassy, Lisbon


The Australian Embassy in Madrid provided $24.000 for a project in Equatorial Guinea, the only Spanish-speaking nation in Africa. The Direct Aid Program (DAP) project, implemented by health NGO, FUDEN, has funded the purchase of new and improved surgical and clinical equipment at Malabo Regional Hospital.

FUDEN's Project Coordinator standing with hospital administration staff after handing over equipment
Osvaldo de Negri Raffo, FUDEN's Coordinator-General for Projects for Africa handed over hospital equipment funded by DAP to Malabo Hospital administration. Credit: FUDEN


The Australian High Commission in Nairobi provided $1,010,000 for 34 projects in the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Somalia and Burundi. Direct Aid Program (DAP) projects focused on women's empowerment, stronger economic development and strengthening people-to-people and institutional links with a focus on gender equality and disability inclusiveness, child protection and environmental sustainability.

One DAP project in Kenya funded the purchase of a laser machine for glaucoma and cataract treatment at the Kwale Eye Centre.

Youth unemployment is a considerable issue in Uganda, as it has the youngest population anywhere in the world.  The R.A.I.S.E. project in Uganda received DAP funds to provide youths in Kampala with practical and financial skills to make them more employable as well as mentoring to assist them with life skills.  The R.A.I.S.E. Program is an acronym for:

R – Reap what you sow
A – Aspire to be the best you can be
I – Invest in your future
S – Start now
E – Education is the key to success

Students raise their hands as they partcipate in a discussion on education
Students in the DAP funded R.A.I.S.E. project in Kampala, Uganda participate in a group discussion. Credit: Australian High Commission, Nairobi

Improving education outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa – one desk at a time

It's cheap, light and portable, with the name of a famous Nobel Prize laureate on it – it's a Tutudesk.   A practical solution to a shortage of classroom desks for more than 95 million school children across Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Tutudesk provides a strong, stable surface that can be used anywhere. Students can study on Tutudesks while sitting cross-legged on the classroom floor or under a baobab tree. It's a simple idea that simply works.  

Recognised as an award-winning South African innovation, the Australian Government is supporting the Tutudesk campaign, which aims to deliver at least 20 million desks to young students in poverty-stricken regions by 2020. Through the Direct Aid Program, 4000 students received a Tutudesk in 2015–16.

Students raise their hands as they partcipate in a discussion on education
Students working with their new Tutudesks, DAP project, South Africa. Credit: Tutudesk campaign

'We must no longer accept a child's educational experience being prejudiced by the lack of a most basic piece of educational infrastructure – a classroom desk,' said Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the patron of the Tutudesk campaign.

'I went to school where there were no desks. We sat on benches and when teachers asked us to write, we knelt down on the floor and used the benches we had been sitting on as desks,' said the Archbishop.

In the northernmost province of Limpopo, which has the highest level of poverty in South Africa, the Australian High Commissioner Adam McCarthy handed over 280 Tutudesks to students at Mpoko-Maloka Combined School.

With 1.5 million already in the hands of children across the country, Tutudesks have significantly improved the learning conditions of South African students. 'They all come to school because there are no shortages of desks,' added Miss Molokome, a Grade 7 teacher.

The desks belong to the students. At the end of the day the kids can take them home. 'The learners are doing their homework now that they have something to write on,' said Kubeka, a Grade 4 teacher.

Independent research shows the use of a Tutudesk not only improves the student experience but the education outcome as well – from participation in classwork to homework grades and test scores. 'Marks are higher because of improved handwriting,' said Mbily, a Grade 3 teacher.

The benefits of making education more accessible for children across Sub-Saharan African cannot be underestimated, one desk at a time.

Port Louis

The Australian High Commission in Port Louis provided $420,000 for 14 projects in the Indian Ocean Rim - Madagascar, Mauritius, Rodrigues (a semi-autonomous Outer Island of Mauritius) and Comoros. Direct Aid Program (DAP) projects focused on supporting women's economic empowerment, people with disability and health and education.

This included supporting a training program, using both Australian and local expertise, which encourages women entrepreneurs in Mauritius, Rodrigues Island and the Seychelles to grow their existing enterprises, develop opportunities and help them overcome barriers, allowing them to move from informal to more formal sectors, or for example, into export markets. The program will be expanded to Madagascar and Comoros in 2016-2017.

Another project helped set up a workshop in the Honey Department of Care-Co training centre in Rodrigues Island to train people with disability in making honey by-products. In Comoros a medical laboratory has been set up to assist with community health initiatives.

twenty women in training room - one with microphone speaking from the floor
Coaching and Mentoring training project, Mauritius. Credit: Association Mauricienne des Femmes Chefs d'Entreprises


The Australian High Commission in Pretoria provided $922,000 for 19 projects across the southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. Direct Aid Program (DAP) projects focused on education and skills development, as well as social and economic empowerment of disadvantaged groups.

The Cricket School of Excellence (CSE) in Cape Town was funded to hold regular cricket coaching clinics in the townships that not only provided top-level coaching, but also donated quality equipment to the resource poor townships. The High Commission began its collaboration with CSE in November 2015 when the youth crew of the sail training ship STS Young Endeavour docked in Cape Town and participated in a cricket clinic in Khayelitsha.

School children playing cricket on field with mountain backdrop
Primary school kids from surrounding schools participate in a cricket clinic funded by DAP, Cape Town. Credit: Cricket School of Excellence

DAP also funded a wheelchair accessible gym and skills development centre at a care facility in South Africa where an active disability program was initiated by an Australian occupational therapist during her volunteer placement under the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program.

DAP partnered with Questacon and the Australian National University to bring a travelling roadshow of scientists to schools in Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa and Zambia.

Reaching an audience of more than 41,000, the program encouraged students to join in and perform interactive science-based experiments, creating explosions, making rockets and setting things on fire.

The performers spent time with local teachers, training them in new and engaging teaching practices to get students excited about science.

Science educator Dr Graham Walker in action
Dr Graham Walker from ANU inspiring kids by making learning fun. Credit: Science Circus Africa

Last Updated: 12 December 2016