Overview of Australia’s aid program to Fiji
2013/14 Estimated Outcome: $61.9 million
2014/15 Budget Estimate: $61.9 million
Australia's total official development assistance to Fiji was $59.5 million in 2013-14 (estimated outcome), including $34.2 million in bilateral aid and $25.3 million delivered through regional programs. Australia remains Fiji’s largest bilateral grant donor, accounting for an estimated 52.4 per cent of total official development assistance. This assistance equates to around 1 per cent of Fiji’s GDP or 6 per cent of government revenue.
Fiji is on track to achieve universal primary education (MDG 2), and ensure environmental sustainability (MDG 7). Fiji is only showing mixed results for three indicators; eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1); promote gender equality and empower women (MDG 3); and combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases (MDG 6). The Fiji Ministry of Health has advised that Fiji is unlikely to meet its MDG 4 (reduce child mortality) or MDG 5 (improve maternal health) targets by 2015.
World Bank analysis, funded by the Australian aid program, showed poverty fell nationally from 39.8 per cent in 2003 to around 35.2 per cent in 2009 but the state of poverty since then is not known. While overall poverty rates may have dropped, a large proportion of the population remains just above the poverty line and highly vulnerable to income shocks. An estimated 49 per cent of Fiji's population lives in rural areas, where poverty rates remain markedly higher.
The Fiji program is guided by DFAT’s Fiji Country Strategy 2012–14, which focuses on the country’s vulnerable and most disadvantaged communities. The Country strategy has three development objectives: improving access to quality education; strengthening primary health services; and building resilience and economic opportunities in disadvantaged communities. The bilateral program has three cross-cutting priorities to reinforce focus and coherence in delivering the aid program across the three objectives: deeper engagement between Fiji and Australia (including through scholarships), support to civil society and humanitarian assistance. Australian aid has assisted Fiji’s transition to democracy by supporting elections and preparations for a new parliament. DFAT is developing a new investment plan to guide Australian aid to Fiji beyond the end of the current strategy.
Major achievements in 2013-2014 included:
- Infrastructure upgrades in 20 schools, providing 4,073 students (1,923 girls and 2,150 boys) from poor and disadvantaged communities with a better place to study.
- Assistance for the provision of immunisations contributed to an increase in the number of children immunised, from 93 per cent in 2008 to 95 per cent in 2013-14.
- Support for the private sector helped leverage over $1.6 million in private sector investment to assist small businesses and improve incomes for the poor.
- Australia responded to a major outbreak of dengue fever that claimed 16 lives and resulted in over 27,000 diagnosed cases, by funding vital medical consumables and helping raise public awareness of the outbreak through a communications campaign.
- Australia’s new focus on enhanced engagement has resulted in technical exchanges between Australian and Fijian Government officials.
- Australian supported elections preparations in Fiji by providing six Australian experts to fill positions in the Fiji Elections Office, including the Deputy Supervisor of Elections. We also agreed to co-lead a Multinational Observation Group to observe the Fiji elections.
- 127 volunteers were funded by the aid program, including 28 in Fiji government agencies. Australia also provided 80 Australia Awards Scholarships for Fijians to study in the Pacific and Australia.
Economic and community development in Fiji
Poverty levels in Fiji were around 35 per cent in 2009, and while no recent data is available it is likely that this rate has persisted, with poverty concentrated in rural and peri-urban areas. Incomes have declined in areas that rely on agriculture, Fiji’s sugar industry has become less competitive, demand for other agricultural products has been subdued and production has been hampered by natural disasters. Tourism drives economic growth in Fiji, but the industry is too reliant on Australia and New Zealand markets. Formal unemployment is relatively low at 9 per cent (2014) but underemployment is prolific.
In this economic environment, Australian aid promotes inclusive economic growth by supporting pro-poor market development, women’s economic empowerment and improving financial competency and utilization of banking services by the poor. We also support local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to deliver services to remote and vulnerable communities in Fiji.
Read the Fiji Community Resilience and Economic Opportunities Delivery Strategy (CREO)
Market Development Facility
2014–2017, $8.8 million (this represents the Fiji Bilateral contribution to the overall $27 million DFAT funding to the MDF Program)
Australian aid helps support an increase in the net incomes of the poor through the multi-country Market Development Facility (MDF) program. MDF identifies growth potential in the economy, and supports key private sector partners to catalyse pro-poor market growth. MDF has partnered with the private sector on a number of firsts for Fiji and the region, including local production of agricultural-lime, establishment of the first large scale mud-crab farm outside of South-East Asia and the export of the first kava-based supplement drink.
Pacific Financial Inclusion Program—Phase 2
2013–2016, $5.0 million (this represents the Fiji Bilateral contribution to the overall $14 million DFAT funding to the PFIP Program)
The Fiji program has supported the Pacific Financial Inclusion Project (PFIP) to work with the Ministry of Education to mainstream financial education throughout the school curriculum, targeted at all 197,000 school children in Fiji. The PFIP program has also supported innovation of financial products and new business models by the private sector, including the introduction of mobile money, in-store banking and micro-insurance pilots.
Community Development Program
2011–2015, $9.4 million
This program aims to alleviate social and economic hardship among Fiji's poorest through civil society organisations. Capacity building under the program will help make civil society organisations more efficient and effective in assisting the poor, aiming to improve the resilience of communities to respond to natural disasters and economic shocks.
Education assistance in Fiji
Fiji is on track to achieving universal basic education (MDG 2) with high levels of enrolment in primary schools. However, challenges remain in retaining students, ensuring their progress into secondary education and improving literacy and numeracy. An estimated 6,000 children aged 6-14 do not attend school each year (around 4 per cent).
Australian aid aims to improve access for Fijian children to quality education. We are providing direct support to the poorest schools in the country to assist the most disadvantaged children to complete a full primary education. This support also includes upgrading school infrastructure and water and sanitation facilities; and making schools accessible for children with disabilities. We are rehabilitating schools damaged by cyclones and flooding. To improve the quality of education nationwide, we are helping develop Fiji's literacy and numeracy assessments; the national Education Management Information System; and providing training for teachers.
Access to Quality Education Program
$50 million, 2011–2015
Australia’s Access to Quality Education Program (AQEP) is designed to help improve access to quality basic education for the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in Fiji. AQEP focuses on the poorest 139 primary schools, as mapped by the World Bank, and it has three main components:
- AQEP provides support through school based management grants aimed at increasing enrolment and attendance of disadvantaged children.
- AQEP invests in school infrastructure such as class rooms and library buildings, providing students with a better place to study.
- AQEP provides support for Fiji’s Ministry of Education through short-term technical assistance and research to inform program planning and evaluation. AQEP supported the Fiji Education Management Information System, resulting in the entry of 100 per cent of student records. AQEP also provided financial management training to head teachers, principals, managers and treasurers in 898 schools.
AQEP also works with five selected demonstration schools to promote a disability inclusive approach by ensuring that children with disabilities have improved access to mainstream schools. All of these schools have received infrastructure upgrades to make them disability accessible, in line with Australian Government standards.
Health assistance in Fiji
Fiji is not likely to meet its target for MDG 5 (maternal mortality). There were eight maternal deaths in 2011 and 12 maternal deaths in 2012, whereas Fiji’s MDG target is two maternal deaths per year. Fiji’s target for MDG 4 (reducing childhood mortality) is also unlikely to be reached. The number of stillbirths and peri-natal deaths remains a concern. Fiji still has some way to go to combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases (MDG 6). The prevalence of HIV/AIDs remains relatively low, but there was a sharp increase in reported cases in 2011. Fiji also faces a major challenge in addressing the steadily increasing rate of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which is fast becoming the biggest health risk that Fiji’s health system must address.
Health Systems Strengthening Program
$33.5 million, 2011-2016
Australia’s Health Sector Support Program (FHSSP) is designed to help strengthen the health system in Fiji. FHSSP focuses its efforts on improving maternal and child health, and the prevention and management of NCDs such as diabetes and hypertension. FHSSP has five main objectives:
- FHSSP contributes to improving the health and safety of mothers by supporting the introduction of standards for clinical treatment of mothers, providing training for nurses and upgrading hospital facilities and equipment.
- FHSSP contributes to improved child health by jointly funding three new childhood vaccines, including one to address high rates of cervical cancer in girls. Support for infant vaccinations has maintained the number receiving ten immunisations at above 95 per cent. FHSSP also supports adequate staffing in hospitals to implement the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness. This aims to reduce illness, and promote growth and development among children.
- FHSSP contributes to diabetes prevention and management by funding training and equipment to improve screening and early detection. In 2011, 82 per cent of deaths in Fiji were caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs). As a result of FHSSP support, screening for NCDs increased tenfold from 2012-13. This increase in early diagnosis contributes to improved disease management, and will reduce disability and death in the longer term.
- FHSSP is revitalising the community health worker network by providing training for community health workers and supporting the MoH to progress key policies on community health workers. These efforts aim to reduce pressure on the broader health system and strengthen an existing system that works closely with communities to be a first port of call on health issues.
- FHSSP supports health system strengthening by providing technical assistance to the MoH. The FHSSP has focused its support on workforce planning, monitoring and evaluation, health information systems and strategic planning.