Why we give aid to Papua New Guinea
Delivering aid in PNG poses enormous challenges. Providing basic services to very small, diverse, scattered and often isolated communities across extremely rugged terrain is a difficult task. Difficulties in reaching rural locations, weak governance and a lack of commitment to improving service delivery means many people still lack access to basic services such as education, transport and primary health care.
Around 40 per cent of PNG’s population lives in poverty. Preventable disease is widespread and rates of non-communicable disease are increasing. High birth rates and lack of adequate prenatal and neonatal services mean that many infants die before their first birthday and maternal death rates are among the highest in the world. An estimated 12,000 children under five die every year—around the same number as 20 years ago.
With the population of PNG likely to double by 2050, this represents a major challenge. While enrolments have improved in recent years, around one third of PNG’s children still do not attend school, and many enter adulthood lacking the basic skills needed to participate in PNG’s rapidly changing economy. The lack of formal employment opportunities for the burgeoning youth population is a potential source of political and social instability.
PNG is not on-track to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals. In the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report 2013, PNG is grouped among those countries with low human development, ranking 156th out of 186 countries.
PNG is our nearest neighbour. Improving the lives of poor people and promoting stability are central to Australia’s interests. Australia is the largest donor to PNG. Australia’s role as PNG’s leading bilateral donor is globally recognised. Australian aid is having an impact on the lives of Papua New Guineans, and Australia will continue to play a leading role in supporting PNG’s development, including through aid.
Last reviewed: 1 November, 2013