Australia provides aid to the Cook Islands through a delegated arrangement with New Zealand. Cook Islands’ development is challenged by its narrow economic base, limited natural resources, fragile environment, shortage of skilled labour and relatively remote location. The economy, underpinned by tourism and marine resources, remains vulnerable to natural disasters, as demonstrated by Cyclone Pat which caused significant damage to key infrastructure in 2010 and a severe drought in 2011.
Building new sanitation facilities in Muri, Cook Islands (credit: DFAT).
Australia will support the joint development assistance programme with New Zealand as this continues to be one of the most effective and efficient ways to deliver aid to a small Pacific island state. We will support priority areas under the New Zealand–Cook Islands Joint Commitment for Development, focusing on:
- improving economic infrastructure and water management by upgrading residential and commercial septic systems to protect water quality in the lagoon, important to the tourism industry
- investments to improve the quality of education, literacy, and numeracy, to develop an educated workforce ready to contribute to—and benefit from—economic growth
- building resilience through disaster management and preparedness, including reconstruction of public infrastructure and the development of a disaster management programme for government and local communities.
Australia is also funding two new initiatives to help the Cook Islands Government to reduce violence against women and promote women’s economic empowerment and disability-inclusive development.
A water monitoring activity taking place at Muri lagoon, Cook Islands (credit: Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) Unit, Government of the Cook Islands).
Details of the proposed expenditure for this program for 2013-14 can be found here.
A table of proposed expenditure for 2013-14 and actual expenditure for 2012-13 for DFAT's aid program can be found here.