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heading foldHow we are helping

2013/14 Estimated Outcome

$57.2 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate

$60.4 million


Australia is an important economic partner for Vanuatu, providing the country with the majority of its tourists, foreign direct investment and aid. Australian aid to Vanuatu will promote economic growth and poverty reduction by fostering job creation and income opportunities; promoting a healthy and productive population; and supporting safer and more resilient communities. We will work with a range of partners including the Vanuatu Government, the private sector and community organisations.

Philip Masing fixes a Public Works vehicle at the municipality on Malakula Island
Philip Masing fixes a Public Works vehicle at the municipality on Malakula Island, Vanuatu (credit: DFAT).

Australian aid will improve Vanuatu’s rural roads and priority urban infrastructure, which will stimulate private sector development and improve economic growth prospects by reducing the costs of trade by:

  • improving or constructing 34 kilometres of drainage pipes and channels, 10 community sanitation facilities, pedestrian access and traffic management and key urban roads in Vanuatu’s capital by 2016, through the Port Vila Urban Development Project
  • rehabilitating 185 kilometres of priority rural roads and engaging around 30 island based contractors in 2014 through our Roads for Development Program, providing job opportunities and increasing access to services in rural areas.

Prawn farming training in Vanuatu is reaching remote communities and bringing skills for development
Prawn farming training in Vanuatu is reaching remote communities and bringing skills for development (credit: DFAT).

Australia will also support effective governance and private sector development through:

  • providing assistance to the Vanuatu Government through our Governance for Growth Program focusing on economic policy, macro-economic management and improved service delivery through better public financial management, and effective regulation to reduce costs in the telecommunications and energy sectors
  • partnering with Carnival Australia, a major player in the cruise industry in the region, including identifying opportunities to enhance local businesses and employment opportunities for ni-Vanuatu
  • improving access to justice, particularly for violence against women and children, through the Vanuatu Australia Police Project and broader technical assistance to the government’s legal and judicial systems. In 2014, we will train 300 police officers and law and justice officials
  • strengthening the land administration system in line with the desire of Vanuatu’s government and citizens and supporting implementation of a new legislative framework and enhanced land survey records in 2014.

Constables Jack Kanas and Noelline Saksak patrol the streets of Port Vila, Vanuatu
Constables Jack Kanas and Noelline Saksak patrol the streets of Port Vila, Vanuatu (credit: DFAT).

Australia will support improved education and health services to build a productive workforce by:

  • improving the quality of education in the early years of schooling through our Vanuatu Education Support Program and providing grants to 359 primary schools which will benefit around 35,000 children
  • facilitating training and business development services in rural areas and strengthening national skills development systems through the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Sector Strengthening Program
  • providing 45 new Australia Awards in 2014 for ni-Vanuatu to study at universities in the region or Australia
  • training 10 midwives and distributing medical supply kits for 100 rural and remote health facilities in 2014.

A prawn farm in operation, Vanuatu
A prawn farm in operation, Vanuatu (credit: DFAT).

Across the development assistance programme, we will work to improve gender equality and build resilience in communities by:

  • continuing Australia’s long-term funding for the Vanuatu Women’s Centre and Wan Smolbag Theatre, which provide much-needed support services to women and girls
  • supporting the Women’s Centre’s counselling and information services to reach around 4,000 women, and community education activities to reach around 25,000 people in 2014
  • standing ready to provide humanitarian and disaster assistance if requested by the Vanuatu Government.

Perry Louis a lab assistant at the Norsup Hospital, Malekula Island, Vanuatu
Perry Louis a lab assistant at the Norsup Hospital, Malekula Island, Vanuatu (credit: DFAT).

First grade students during class at Norsup Primary School
First grade students during class at Norsup Primary School (credit: DFAT).

A young girl reads a booklet on domestic violence in the Port Vila vegetable markets
A young girl reads a booklet on domestic violence in the Port Vila vegetable markets (credit: DFAT).

Archived details of expenditure for this program for 2013–14 can be found here.

Archived details of expenditure for DFAT’s aid program, following the Government’s announcement on 18 January 2014 to revise the aid budget, can be found here.


Results to June 2013

  • Since 2007 malaria incidence has reduced by over 80 per cent nationwide and is almost eliminated in the province of Tafea, where incidence is now less than 1 per cent.
  • Australia contributed to vaccinating 1,405 children against measles, and 1,837 children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) in 2012.
  • 9,121 people accessed specialist reproductive and sexual health services in 2012 at Wan Smolbag’s clinic in Port Vila, including many women and youth. 

Commitments 2013-14

  • Assist Tafea Province (population 32 549) to be malaria-free by 2014.
  • Finalise the upgrade of 30 health facilities which serve around 170,000 people.
  • Assist Central Medical Stores to upgrade three rural pharmacies to improve routine and emergency medicine distribution throughout the country.
  • Replace defunct oxygen plants in the country’s two major hospitals to provided good quality medical gases to three quarters of Vanuatu’s population.


Results to June 2013

  • In 2012, Australian funding contributed to providing school grants to 425 primary schools (98 per cent of all primary schools) and providing pre-service training to 354 teachers.
  • 285 ni-Vanuatu students on Australia Awards in 2012, more than 40 per cent women.
  • Counselling and information on violence against women and women’s rights provided for approximately 4,626 women and men in FY2011-12. 289 Family Protection Act orders facilitated in 2012.

Commitments 2013-14

  • Roll out new national curriculum and learning materials for years 1-6 to improve education quality for 18,000 children.
  • Training for more than 300 new and 300 existing primary teachers, including in-service training on multiclass teaching and literacy methodologies.
  • 95 new Australia Awards at local, regional and Australian universities and colleges, plus on-going assistance to 284 students.
  • Continued expansion of the work of the Vanuatu Women’s Centre to protect women against violence.

Economic development

Results to June 2013

  • 171.4kms of priority roads upgraded from 2010 to 2012, generating 101,588 days of work and improving access to health centres, schools and markets for up to 40,000 people.
  • Supported number of incoming tourists to increase from 238,000 in 2010 to 327,000 in 2012.
  • Over 24,000 solar lamps replaced kerosene lamps and candles for families with no access to electricity since 2011. Electricity cost savings of 20-30 per cent for families due to free mobile phone recharging (using the lamps).
  • Telecommunications coverage now available for 90 per cent of the population, supporting 1.5 per cent GDP increase.

Commitments 2013-14

  • Employment on road works for people in remote communities.
  • Upgrading of key provincial unsealed roads to be all-weather accessible.
  • Two regulators (Telecommunications and Radiocommunications Regulator and Utilities Regulatory Authority) will be resourced to carry out their roles efficiently and independently.


Results to June 2013

  • Major reforms in Value-Added Tax (VAT) collection meant that VAT collection increased by 12 per cent in the first four months of 2012 compared with same period in 2011 and exceeded the October 2012 target by 34 per cent.
  • 164 separate Government of Vanuatu IT systems consolidated into a single network in 2011, improving efficiency and savings of around $4 million per year.
  • Recruited 25 men and 8 women to the Vanuatu Police Force and trained 914 police in 2011. Increased rural access to policing through building one police station and two new police posts.
  • In 2012, reduced the Land Registry backlog by 60 per cent to only 1,000 outstanding applications and improved transparency and security for document processing.

Commitments 2013-14

  • Enable improvements to Vanuatu’s land planning and management through strengthened institutions, accurate spatial data, development of a valuation zoning system for Luganville, improved valuation procedures and better government revenue collection.
  • Support the review and legal drafting of proposed amendments to land governance legislation. 

Research overview

Good research can lead to positive change for the world’s poorest by enhancing the design and implementation of development policies and programs. That’s why Australian Aid is committed to an innovative research portfolio and funds research, including through:

  • competitive funding mechanisms (such as the Australian Development Research Awards Scheme)
  • research partnerships with different Australian, international and developing country research institutions
  • commissioning research to address a specific question or clearly defined research gap, and
  • one-off research grants, when an existing program of research is relevant to the Australian aid program.

More information on how we fund research

Research funded by our Vanuatu country program specifically targets Vanuatu’s development challenges. Some of the highlights of this research are listed below.

Survey of women’s lives and family relationships

The Australian Aid-funded television program 'Love Patrol' challenges values, attitudes and behaviours that harm women and children in Vanuatu.

The 'Vanuatu National Survey of Women’s Lives and Family Relationships' is the first nationwide study that benchmarks the prevalence and incidence of violence against women, and attitudes to violence in Vanuatu. This survey examines how violence impacts on the health and wellbeing of women and children; risk and protective factors in the family and community; coping strategies of women; and what this means for prevention and support services.

The study reveals a different side to Vanuatu's happy image. It argues that violence against women cannot be prevented unless patterns of unequal power, including controlling behaviours by husbands and intimate partners, are transformed. The study finds that respect and trust for Vanuatu’s chiefs and church leaders helps to promote social cohesion, and that there is some support for women's rights and non-violent solutions to family problems. It concludes, however, that attitudes about women's rights and gender equality need widespread change to reduce the high rates of all forms of violence against women in Vanuatu.

This important study was recently completed - with Australia's support - by the Vanuatu Women's Centre, in partnership with the National Statistics Office.  The report was launched on 2 November 2011 at Parliament House in Canberra, as part of the Australia–US Pacific Women's Empowerment Policy Dialogue: Stopping Violence Against Women

Overcoming barriers to women’s economic empowerment

Women in Vanuatu: Analyzing Challenges to Economic Participation is a comprehensive analysis of institutional, legal, and regulatory barriers to women’s full economic participation in Vanuatu. A joint Australian Aid, World Bank and International Finance Corporation team prepared the report March-April 2008, based on field research and consultations with government and private sector organisations.

The report outlines the context for women’s economic empowerment in Vanuatu. By analyzing the gender dimensions of the cost of doing business— using the World Bank’s Doing Business indicators—it considers reforms to improve private sector development so women and men will benefit equally. The report recommends actions for Australian Aid, the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and the Government of Vanuatu to promote women’s economic empowerment by improving: Vanuatu’s legal framework; availability of sex-disaggregated data; business start-up and licensing requirements; access to land; access to markets; awareness of ‘value added’ and fair trade brands and certification; business and financial management skills; access to finance; contract enforcement; and employment law (to remove discrimination).

Report: Women in Vanuatu: Analyzing Challenges to Economic Participation (World Bank, 2009) [external website]

Social and economic impact of telecommunications in Vanuatu

Reports: 2008, 2009, 2011 [external websites]

This Australian-funded multi-year study is tracking the impact of improved telecommunications technology on people in urban and rural Vanuatu. The 2011-12 report is the third in the series of studies—undertaken by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy—and further illuminates the economic and social impacts of telecommunications in Vanuatu. The latest study has found that many of these impacts are clear: prior to 2008, people in Vanuatu had limited access to phones, but now mobiles are a common household item. Since 2008, both the incumbent (Telecom Vanuatu Ltd) and the new provider (Digicel) have expanded services across the country, including to remote islands in the north and south. Modes of communication are changing, new business ventures are emerging, and mobile phones are becoming a part of everyday life.

For further information, see the Pacific Institute for Public Policy Homepage [external website].

Unfinished State: Drivers of change in Vanuatu

Unfinished State: Drivers Of Change in Vanuatu [PDF 595 kb]

The heart of the development challenge in Vanuatu is managing change. Many of the drivers of change discussed here…have the potential to offer greater choices and opportunities to ni-Vanuatu. However, they also threaten rising inequality and a raft of new social problems, and could prove highly disruptive to communities and their way of life. Report, p 15  

Development is a fundamentally political process, and development assistance is likely to be more effective if it is based on a sound understanding of the country context, including political processes and incentives.

Because of this, Australia has funded 'Drivers of Change', an analytical tool used by donors to assess the prospects for and constraints on development in a particular country context. With a political economy perspective, the tool assesses the interaction between economic, social and cultural systems, institutions, and actors, including individuals and organisations.

The report maps out possible development scenarios for Vanuatu in the coming 10–15 years, based on different assumptions around political governance. This includes examining what kind of change is possible in Vanuatu’s political environment, and highlighting the choices, risks and opportunities facing the country.


heading fold Why we give aid


Many of Vanuatu’s people live in poverty, have poor health, and cannot access opportunities and services such as education.

As a regional neighbour, Australia is well-placed to work closely with government and civil society to improve Vanuatu’s development. Australia can, and is, making a real difference in Vanuatu.

Find out more about why we give aid to Vanuatu


heading fold How we give aid

Through the Vanuatu–Australia Partnership for Development our two countries work together to support Vanuatu’s development, targeting sectors where help is most needed.

The Partnership commits Vanuatu to provide sound laws, policies and public service delivery, and to effectively and transparently manage development resources. It commits Australia to increase our aid, give good technical advice and to work closely with Vanuatu’s Government to deliver this assistance.

Read the Vanuatu–Australia Partnership for Development document

Read the Vanuatu Aid Program Performance Report 2013-14


heading foldProgress Against MDGs


Last reviewed: 28 October, 2014