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Sri Lanka

Overview of Australia’s aid program to Sri Lanka

2013/14 Estimated Outcome: $39.0 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate: $42.8 million

Australian aid investments in Sri Lanka aim to expand economic opportunities for the poor and address barriers to employment participation and productivity. The aid portfolio is designed to support Australia’s policy priorities, align with Sri Lankan development priorities, and build on Australia’s experience over the past 30 years in Sri Lanka. Well-targeted assistance, addressing areas of disadvantage and poverty after years of civil conflict, is important in promoting reconciliation.

Australian aid seeks to promote stability and prosperity in Sri Lanka and allows us to build on our constructive relationships with the Sri Lankan Government, civil society and communities.

Despite its lower middle-income status and good prospects to achieve all Millennium Development Goals, Sri Lanka remains a post-conflict nation with inequitable economic and social development.

Positive national indicators mask a grim reality for many. Deep poverty persists in lagging regions, especially those recovering from the civil conflict. In some areas up to 30 per cent of the population survives on less than $2 a day. Education outcomes are varied, with many children from poor communities lacking access to quality education. With about 45 per cent of Sri Lanka’s economic activity concentrated in Colombo and the Western Province, ensuring more inclusive economic growth is vital.

Australian aid will support practical measures to help disadvantaged communities find work, start businesses or restart farming or fishing activities. We will also support reforms to government policies and programs to ensure economic growth is inclusive and essential services for the poor are improved.

As the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka has improved, Australia has shifted its focus from humanitarian support in conflict-affected areas to long-term development assistance.

Help to improve social and economic indicators in lagging regions

Australian assistance builds successfully on the legacy of humanitarian support and continues to be strongly aligned with the Government of Sri Lanka’s development policy framework. Australia’s aid program will focus on helping Sri Lanka build lasting peace, stability and prosperity. Across Sri Lanka’s lagging regions, our support will help build the social and economic well-being of the poorest and most disadvantaged, especially women.

Improving social and economic indicators in lagging regions in Sri Lanka

Supporting policies and programs implemented at national and sub-national levels that aim for inclusive growth and improved service delivery

Australian aid through its partnership approach with implementing partners and the Sri Lankan Government seeks to increase dialogue on policy reforms that promote inclusion, equity and a poverty focus. Australia continues to make a strong contribution to inclusive policies and programs across a number of sectors including education, forestry and water and sanitation.

Our results

Help to improve social and economic indicators in lagging regions

In 2013-14:

  • 7,646 poor men and women have benefitted from increased incomes through agriculture and small business training while 107 forest management plans have been developed, 3,402 home gardens improved and 310 people were trained in new agricultural technologies.
  • 8,458 students, teachers and education officials received health and hygiene education, and 118,802 students (boys 57,032 and girls 61,770) and 6,178 teachers (male 2,478 and female 3,700) in 296 rural schools received quality sanitation facilities.
  • Approximately 12,000 people in 3,000 households benefited from improved access to safe, piped water; 4,000 people in 900 households received sanitation grants to construct toilet facilities.
  • School committees aimed at improving participation and retention of students were established in over 4,000 schools and 2,372 schools completed a School Based Teacher Development program.
  • 236 houses were reconstructed or repaired while 1,822 households were assisted to formalise land tenure.

Supporting policies and programs implemented at national and sub-national levels that aim for inclusive growth and improved service delivery

In 2013-14:

  • 1,436 public servants were trained in public management processes such as the use of Citizen Report Card tools and systems, the use of participatory budgeting approaches, and the prevention of gender based violence.
  • 68 civil society organisations were supported to track service provision to communities in lagging regions.

Related documents

Improving social and economic indicators in lagging regions in Sri Lanka


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 support local infrastructure development, improved access to quality education services and strengthen local governance.

Through support to water and sanitation projects, Australia helps disadvantaged communities across Sri Lanka to gain access to clean water and improved sanitation in their homes and schools. This work trains people in the construction of water and sanitation infrastructure, management of resources along with operations and maintenance contributing to sustainability.

Australia supports the expansion and maintenance of local infrastructure including roads, irrigation systems and market place facilities that help generate economic opportunities and livelihoods for Sri Lankans living in rural areas.

Related initiatives

North East Services Improvement Project

$25.3 million, 2011-2016

The North East Local Services Improvement Project is a joint initiative of the World Bank, Australia and the Sri Lankan Government. Australia’s assistance is pooled with a World Bank loan and Sri Lankan Government funds. The project is repairing and constructing infrastructure in the north and east. This includes bridges, water supply systems, market places and rural roads. It will also enhance the capacity of local government authorities to design, implement and manage infrastructure development. The project also supports economic activity and supply chain improvements for around 370,000 people.

Related documents*
Name of document Year published Type
Sri Lanka—North East Local Services Improvement Project (NELSIP) 2010 World Bank Project Appraisal Document
Concept Report for Local Economic Infrastructure in the North East 2011 Concept note
North East Local Services Improvement Project (NELSIP)—QAE Report 2012 Quality at entry report

Australian Community Rehabilitation Project (Phase 3)

$48.7 million, 2009-2016

Australian Community Rehabilitation Program (ACRP) is designed to address issues that entrench poverty in lagging areas of Sri Lanka. It deals with constraints to livelihood and economic development at the community level while addressing the causes of conflicts, strengthening governance and improving service delivery.

ACRP has been implemented through eight partners: three multilateral agencies (UNDP, IOM, ILO), three international NGOs (Oxfam, World Vision, ZOA), one government technical agency (GIZ) and one foundation (The Asia Foundation).

Related documents*
Name of document Year published Type
ACRP Brochure 2011 Program description
ACRP Independent Mid-term Review 2012 Mid-term review

Transforming Schools Education Project

$34 million, 2011-2016

The Transforming Schools Education Project (TSEP) supports the Sri Lankan Government’s Education Sector Development Framework and Program. Australia’s assistance is pooled with a US$100 million World Bank loan. Australia has been closely involved in the design of the project, helping to ensure the mainstreaming of the Child Friendly Approach into the national education system and ensuring adequate focus is given to primary education. The project is managed by the World Bank and implemented by the Sri Lankan Government. The project will improve the quality of primary and secondary education and reduce regional imbalances in access to state education. It will benefit more than four million school children, 250,000 teachers and 3,500 education administrators across the nation. Key activities will include improving school infrastructure in disadvantaged schools, revising the curriculum and professional development for teachers. The program will also help to strengthen schools’ ability to manage their resources and assess student performance.

Related documents*
Name of document Year published Type
Transforming Schools Education Project—Concept Document 2011 Concept note
Transforming Schools Education Project—QAE 2012 Quality at entry report
Sri Lanka—Transforming the School Education System as the Foundation of a Knowledge Hub Project 2011 World Bank Project Appraisal Document

Last reviewed: 16 December, 2014