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Sri Lanka


heading foldHow we are helping

2013/14 Estimated Outcome

$39.0 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate

$42.8 million


Sri Lanka has emerged as a lower middle-income country following the end of its 26-year civil conflict in 2009. Supporting Sri Lankan economic growth and reducing regional inequalities is in Australia’s national interest. The maintenance of peace and stability will be important in the continued growth of trade, investment, education exchange and tourism. In 2012-13, two-way merchandise trade between Australia and Sri Lanka was $340 million.

Australia works with the Government of Sri Lanka to expand economic opportunities for the poor and address barriers to participation and productivity in Sri Lanka. Aid investments target local infrastructure, improve access to quality education services and strengthen local governance.

Child sitting at desk with coloured drawing Students from Kiriwaneliya Singla School (credit: DFAT).

In 2014-15, Australian assistance to improve infrastructure in rural district will include:

  • support to the expansion and maintenance of local infrastructure including roads, irrigation systems and market place facilities that will help generate economic opportunities and livelihoods for Sri Lankans living in rural areas. Australia’s support will enhance the capacity of local government authorities to manage infrastructure development  
  • support to a Community Forestry Program (2011-15) that will increase the incomes of over 5,000 people and protect more than 4,000 acres of land from deforestation.

Australia will support education and skills development of Sri Lankans through:

  • the Sri Lankan Government’s Education Sector Framework and Development Program to improve the quality of primary and secondary education across the country. Over the period 2011-16 Australian assistance will support the upgrading of school facilities and the training of 215,000 teachers, 15,000 principals and 3,500 education administrators
  • helping to promote gender equality, social cohesion and inclusive education across the country
  • providing up to 30 Australia Awards Scholarships for Sri Lankans to study at Australian universities. Past scholars are linked by a strong alumni network in Sri Lanka.

Students wash their hands at Lindula Maha School (credit: DFAT).

Australia will support community rehabilitation and reconciliation by improving living standards for the most vulnerable and enable citizens to advocate effectively for the services they need.

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

  • 8,017 people received safe drinking water and 5,942 people received access to improved sanitation in Sri Lanka’s lagging regions.

Commitments 2013–14

  • 5,700 people receive access to improved water and sanitation facilities in lagging regions.


Results to June 2013

  • 4,190 additional children enrolled in schools and receiving a quality education in ‘child-friendly’ settings.
  • 278 classrooms built as part of a program to rebuild 23 schools damaged or destroyed by the civil conflict.
  • 19,565 teachers trained to provide better quality teaching and learning, including health education on safe water and hygiene.
  • 2,658 education administrators trained to effectively manage school resources.
  • Provided 91 Australia Awards, comprising 30 long-term and 61 short-term awards in 2013 in priority areas of education, health, environment and governance.

Commitments 2013–14

  • In partnership with the World Bank, contribute to the following results:
    • all Year 1 students across Sri Lanka will benefit from improved curriculum
    • 230,000 teachers trained will provide better quality teaching and learning
    • the rate of girls and boys reaching Year 11 will increase to 84 per cent
    • 40 per cent of schools will implement health and nutrition programs.
  • Revise and upgrade special education and non-formal education programs to increase the inclusion of all students.
  • Provide 30 Australia Awards in the priority areas of education, health and inclusive economic growth.

Economic development

Results to June 2013

  • 7,172 people in conflict affected areas were assisted to restart farming activities.
  • 1,234 people provided with microfinance services to help start small enterprises.

Commitments 2013–14

  • Over 2,000 small farms and home gardens developed to increase incomes.
  • 7,640 poor men and women supported through agriculture and small business training.
  • 2,000 returning farmers assisted to resume the cultivation of paddy and other crops.
  • Improve the agriculture extension services of the Sri Lankan Department of Agriculture through the provision of training for 30 extension officers.


Results to June 2013

  • 510 police and other law enforcement officials trained to respond effectively to gender based violence.
  • 302 government officials trained to provide better service delivery in health and education.

Commitments 2013–14

  • 450 public servants to receive English language and governance skills training.
  • 560 public servants trained to provide better service delivery in local authorities.


Results to June 2013

  • 350 women received psycho-social support and one-on-one counselling in response to domestic violence threats.

Commitments 2012-2013

  • 165,300 people in four selected local authorities (Vavuniya, Mulaitivu, Mannar and Akkaraipattu) are more resilient to disasters as a result of training and planning.
  • 300 homes of families displaced by conflict to be reconstructed.
  • Over 2,500 families supported to increase their security of tenure.
  • Construction of wells, pre-schools and community centres in 45 conflict-affected communities.

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 specifically targets some of Sri Lanka’s development challenges. Some of the highlights of this research are listed below.

Gender, status and empowerment: A study among women who work in Sri Lanka's export processing zones

This study of 2500 women factory workers in Sri Lanka’s export processing zones traced the impact of formal employment on women's status. Previous studies have found that female factory workers in Sri Lanka face significant societal and community disempowerment as a result of their employment. This study was funded by Australian Aid and undertaken by researchers at Edith Cowan University.

The study found that, along with economic empowerment and improvements in knowledge and skills, women’s decision making power increased in the home and, in some cases, in the workplace. Their social empowerment has also been improved with increased mobility and acceptance from their family and community. However, there are limited opportunities for women to advance in these occupations, the work is repetitive and the social stigma attached to women’s participation in factory employment remains, despite efforts by the government, NGOS and unions to reinforce the contribution of these women to the economy.

This study showed that remittances of women factory workers have contributed significantly to the alleviation of poverty in Sri Lanka. Wider communication of the contribution of these women to the economy will contribute to combatting the negative portrayal of these workers in Sri Lanka.

Read the full report


heading foldWhy we give aid


Australia has good bilateral relations with Sri Lanka, underpinned by trade and investment flows, education, immigration, strong people-to-people links and development cooperation.

Australia’s aid to Sri Lanka is targeted at addressing the development challenges facing the country after a 26 year civil conflict, which ended in 2009.

While poverty is on the decline overall, it remains entrenched in areas across the country, particularly the conflict-affected north and east.

Find out more about why we give aid to Sri Lanka


heading foldHow we give aid

Australia’s aid to Sri Lanka supports practical measures to directly help disadvantaged communities find work, start businesses or restart farming or fishing activities. We also support reforms to national and local government policies and programs to ensure economic growth is inclusive and essential services are improved.

Australian aid to Sri Lanka is delivered through trusted and effective organisations like the World Bank, United Nations and reputable non-government organisations (such as World Vision).

Find out more about how we give aid to Sri Lanka

Read the Australia - Sri Lanka aid program strategy 2012-16

Read the Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka


Last reviewed: 28 October, 2014