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heading foldHow we are helping

2013/14 Estimated Outcome

$81.8 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate

$94.2 million


Development assistance to Bangladesh works in our national interests by promoting economic growth, human development and stability in a region that is of growing strategic significance for Australia. Our aid empowers women and girls by improving education outcomes and increasing economic opportunities for the poor. Australia also works regionally to reduce barriers to regional trade to accelerate economic growth.

Bangladesh is the second largest market for Australian exports to South Asia, with two-way trade having doubled over the past three years (over $990 million in 2012‑13). However, Bangladesh’s economic growth is constrained by energy and infrastructure deficits, skills shortages, and barriers to trade. Added to this, current economic performance is not benefiting large parts of the population and continued political turbulence could dampen economic prospects.  Increased formal employment will accelerate economic growth, reduce poverty rates and foster stability in Bangladesh, particularly as a demographic ‘youth bulge’ enters the workforce over the next decade.

Australia’s aid investments in the education sector work to enhance income generating opportunities. To maximise the impact of our aid, Australia supports non-government partners to deliver immediate large scale and high quality results in education and livelihoods, while working with government programmes to improve service delivery systems over the long term. In 2014-15, Australia will invest in the Government of Bangladesh’s primary education development programme, which aims to build an efficient, inclusive, and equitable national primary education system. Australia plays a lead role among donors and is helping to drive reform to strengthen public financial management systems in the education sector. Our support contributes to the development of a productive workforce that is vital to Bangladesh’s future economic growth.

Boy carries books along laneway Child prepares to leave for primary school (credit: DFAT).

Australia will support the empowerment of women and girls through a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the UK and BRAC (one of the world’s largest NGOs). BRAC’s development programmes deliver education services, livelihoods assistance and gender empowerment programmes directly to millions of Bangladesh’s poor. BRAC’s portfolio of successful social enterprises and financial sector investments, for example Aarong Dairy and BRAC Bank, give the poor access to market value chains and target the ‘missing middle’ of development through small commercial loans, accelerating economic growth in Bangladesh.

Australia will also support social protection programmes in 2014-15 that assist poor people to meet their basic needs and cope with commonly-occurring economic and natural shocks. Such programmes take the form of cash transfers, income generating assets (such as livestock), school-feeding programmes, food-for-work, fee waivers and food vouchers. The programmes empower people to ensure their children are educated, keep their families healthy and learn new skills supporting labour productivity and human development. This support also helps people to improve risk management, facilitating higher return investments by the poor and participation of the poorest in labour markets, thus unlocking economic and self-sufficiency potential.

Australia provides targeted scholarships to Bangladeshis for post-graduate studies and short-courses in Australia, including through the Australia Awards programme. Australia will provide 63 Australia Awards Scholarships to Bangladesh. Australian Volunteers for International Development work on a range of assignments in Bangladesh to address health, education, livelihood and other development needs. These scholarships and volunteer programmes build enduring people-to-people links between Australia and Bangladesh.

Two smiling women in office look through printed papers Volunteer Ngatho Mugo researches maternal and child health at the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health (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

  • Supported 479,000 children to be enrolled in school.
  • Helped more than 190,000 children (50 per cent girls) complete pre-primary and primary school.
  • Provided 127 Australia Awards in Intake 2013, comprising around 62 long-term and 65 short-term awards to Bangladesh for studies in priority areas of social and economic policy, management and health.


  • Helping 89,000 children complete pre-primary school and 102,000 children complete primary school (at least 50 per cent girls).
  • Five-year goals for the primary education program include:
    • all children acquiring grade-wise and subject-wise expected learning outcomes
    • all children participating in pre and primary school
    • reducing regional disparity in completion rates.
  • Offering 70 long-term Australia Awards in 2014 in priority areas of social and economic policy, management capacity and health.


Results to June 2013

  • Helped 98,859 additional births to be supported by skilled birth attendants.
  • Supported an additional 354,220 children to be vaccinated against measles, whooping cough, polio and other diseases.
  • Helped 490,900 people (49 per cent women) to access safe water and basic sanitation.

Economic development

Results to June 2013

  • Helped improve food security and livelihood opportunities of more than 88,000 women and their families by providing them with access to cash transfers, productive assets and training.
  • Assisted an additional 15,000 marginalised households to access social safety-nets programmes.


  • 68,330 people will be provided with cash, assets and skills training helping to lift them and their families out of extreme poverty.
  • Improving food security for 200,000 refugees and host communities along the Bangladesh–Myanmar border through training for investment in micro-enterprises, food distribution and school food programs.


Results to June 2012

  • Contributed to the deployment of 1,200 urban volunteers to the Rana Plaza factory disaster, to help with recovery efforts.
  • Helped 15,280 families to raise the level of their homes in areas vulnerable to the impacts of seasonal flooding and climate change.

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 we are 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
  • 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 Australian Aid targets some of Bangladesh’s most important development challenges, such as maternal and child health, education and climate change. Some of the highlights of this research are listed below.

Australia-SAARC Agricultural Research and Training Project

This project promotes food security through improved water productivity in the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan. Partnering with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), it will fund in-country research and trials, including targeting gender-inequality in the agricultural sector, and build research capacity in these countries through training researchers in analysis and modelling techniques.

More information is available on the ACIAR [external link] website.

Core support to International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh

Australia’s support for the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) funds research aligned to the Centre's strategic plan, including support for health systems strengthening, research on women's and child health and disease surveillance to improve disease management. Australia is one of five donors providing core funding to support the Centre's operational needs, capacity building, advocacy and policy development.

More information is available on the ICDDR,B [external link] website.

From microfinance to rural credit: evidence from a panel survey and field experiments in Bangladesh

This research, conducted by the University of Sydney, explores the role that the interaction between formal and informal rural credit providers can play in improving access to finance and incomes for rural populations in Bangladesh. The study uses randomised field experiments to evaluate alternative microfinance mechanisms that can be used to extend credit to currently excluded rural households.

Managing community impacts of climate change in India and Bangladesh

This Monash University projects aims to identify measures to improve community resilience and sustainable livelihood systems in the Gangetic Basin (India and Bangladesh) in response to climate change. A comparative analysis of case study communities will be undertaken, and particular attention will be paid to the role of women and children in vulnerable communities, relative to likely climate impacts.

More information is available on the Monash University [external link] website.

Improvement of maternal and neonatal health by operationalising an integrated evidence-based intervention package through strengthening of health system in Bangladesh

In partnership with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, this Australian Development Research Award-supported project aims to test the effectiveness of an integrated evidence-based intervention in a target district to increase skilled birth attendance, decrease neonatal mortality, increase met need for obstetric care and to improve quality of care.

More information is available on the ICDDR,B [external link] website.

International Drowning Research Centre, Bangladesh

This funding to the Royal Life Saving Society established an International Drowning Research Centre, and implemented a program of operational research focused on developing a drowning prevention strategy for application in Bangladesh and countries with similar social, cultural and risk environments.

More information is available on the Global Drowning Fund Australia [external link] website.


heading foldWhy we give aid


Bangladesh is one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world. While development indicators are improving extreme poverty remains high, particularly amongst women, and is constraining Bangladesh’s progress toward becoming a middle income country. Australian aid is helping extremely poor women and other marginalised groups to access economic opportunities, improve the quality of education and assist people to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Find out more about why we give aid to Bangladesh


heading foldHow we give aid

Australia works with trusted partners in Bangladesh to give the poor and marginalised greater access to improved education and economic opportunities.

Find out more about how we give aid to Bangladesh

Read the Australia–Bangladesh Aid Program Strategy (2012–16)

Read the Bangladesh Aid Program Performance Report 2013-14


heading foldProgress Against MDGs

  • Eradicate extreme hunger & poverty
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability

Demographic and development statistics for Bangladesh


Last reviewed: 28 October, 2014