Overview of Australia’s aid program to Bangladesh

How we are helping

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$89.9 million

2018-19 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$42.1 million

2018-19 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$59.8 million

Australia's bilateral relationship with Bangladesh continues to grow. Two-way trade exceeded $2.3 billion in 2016-17 on the back of sustained growth in the Bangladesh economy. Australia is increasingly a preferred education destination for Bangladeshi students. Our development partnership is long-standing and Australia was one of the top five bilateral donors contributing humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The Australian Government is providing an estimated $59.8 million in total ODA to Bangladesh in 2018-19. This includes an estimated $42.1 million in bilateral funding to Bangladesh managed by DFAT.

Poverty has steadily declined over the last 20 years in Bangladesh, but 47 million people still live in poverty.. Many people still do not have adequate foundational education, skills or assets to participate in and gain from growth in the economy. Access to better quality education and more effective social protection systems will help share the benefits of economic growth.

Australia's ODA will support initiatives to enable Bangladesh to meet its development objectives with a particular focus on education and building economic resilience among the poorest and most marginalised communities. In both areas, we will prioritise gender equality by focusing on empowering women and girls.

Australia's support to Bangladesh aligns with the Bangladesh Government's vision for the country, outlined in its Seventh Five Year Plan 2016–2020, in which the Bangladesh Government has committed to boost economic growth and empower citizens as part of the Government's long-term vision for eliminating poverty.

Australia is focusing its efforts in Bangladesh in areas where Australia can make a difference and where our resources can most effectively and efficiently be deployed.

Our program is outlined in greater detail in the 2015/16- 2018/19 Bangladesh Aid Investment Plan.

Objective 1: Improving education access, equity, efficiency and learning outcomes

Supporting primary education will assist Bangladesh to address its productivity constraints by improving literacy, numeracy and employability of the future workforce. Australia is supporting the Government of Bangladesh's reform drive by actively participating in the policy and management working groups of the Government's primary education program, complemented by our budget support and funding for technical assistance.

Australia is also working with BRAC, the largest non-government organisation in Bangladesh to provide second-chance education. This benefits children, predominantly girls from poor families as well as children with a disability, who have dropped out or never enrolled in school.

Investments for improving education access, equity, efficiency and learning

Objective 2: Building economic resilience by reducing vulnerability and improving inclusion in the growing economy

Creating opportunities for the poorest of the population to engage in the economy will help promote resilience and stability. Australia is doing this by improving Bangladesh's social protection systems, as well as increasing the productive capacity of the poor, through a range of complementary investments. Australia is also assisting extremely poor women to find pathways out of poverty, building on the lessons and successes of our livelihoods investments. These programs are providing people with cash transfers, productive assets, training and access to free health services. This package of support has been proven to increase income-earning capacity in poor communities.

Through a strategic partnership arrangement with BRAC,and the UK, Australia is helping women, young people and people with a disability find employment through skills training programs that are consistent with Bangladesh labour market demands.

Australia will assist the Government of Bangladesh respond to the needs of over 900,000 displaced Rohingya people and host communities in Cox's Bazar District. Australia is doing this by deploying Australian civilian specialists and making financial contributions to the World Food Programme (WFP), BRAC, UN partners and Australian NGOs. Australian funding will contribute to the provision of food, shelter, clean water and essential health services.

Investments for building economic resilience by reducing vulnerability and improving inclusion in the economy

* Our support for scholarships complements these objectives by helping to build capacity in individuals, institutions and communities. Increasingly, our support in these areas will not only be aligned with our aid objectives, but will also serve much broader development and national interest priorities in sectors of mutual interest to Bangladesh and Australia.

Our results

Increased access to improved education

Results in the education program show that working through partnerships with government and other development partners can produce large scale change. Achievements in the education program linked directly to Australia's funding, policy advocacy and technical advice have included:

In 2016-17:

  • Primary education services to over 20 million Bangladeshi children through Government schools, and to over 600,000 children (including around 355,000 girls) from extremely poor families through BRAC-supported pre-primary or primary schools.
  • Contributed to Improvements in overall primary education equality through distribution of textbooks, increased competency based questions in testing, and increased access to quality education in areas where government schools are not operating

Australia also provided 64 Australia Awards in 2017 to Bangladeshi students for study in a range of fields including engineering, development, public health, transport and public policy.

Building economic resilience and improving social inclusion

In 2016-17 Australia provided direct support to extremely poor families and worked with partners to strengthen national social welfare policies. Our partnership with BRAChas helped 86,975 women and their families with access to increased incomes, making a significant difference to the lives of poor people. Our partnership with World Food Programme contributed to 117,416 children having access to high-energy biscuits in 500 schools, and contributed to a reduction in childhood stunting rates in Cox's Bazar District by two per cent from 42.47 per cent to 40.7 per cent, through nutritional supplementation and related programs.

In 2017, Australian funding has assisted the Government of Bangladesh lead the humanitarian response in Cox's Bazar. Our funding has contributed to the distribution of food (such as rice and pulses) to over 400,000 displaced Rohingya; supported the provision of nutritional supplements to 54,782 women and children including 39,254 children suffering from malnutrition; construction of 215 child/girl friendly spaces, benefiting over 48,000 children; and improved access to clean drinking water, shelter and health care to those impacted by the Rohingya crisis in Cox's Bazar District.

Our changing program

Our changing aid program in Bangladesh reflects the priorities of the Government of Bangladesh and the areas where Australia has a comparative advantage and can maximise the benefits of our aid investments. To improve impact as well as efficiency, a consolidation agenda has been progressively implemented over the last three years. After careful consideration of where Australian aid can be spent most effectively Australia will focus on two priority areas - improved education access and learning outcomes; and building resilience by reducing vulnerability and improving inclusion in the growing economy. Our continued focus on social protection will support the ability of the poor to return to school or employment following natural and man-made shocks.

Australia will continue to work with government and non-government partners across both objectives, an approach which has proved successful to date. Working with the Bangladesh Government to strengthen national systems promotes more efficient use of domestic resources over time. Support for non-government partners helps Australia to deliver large scale, high quality and innovative programs, complementing government services.

Last Updated: 21 September 2018