The Australian government released July 6 a revised framework for its foreign aid program, outlining the country’s strategic goals, priority sectors and focus regions through 2015 and highlighting its commitment to enhance the effectiveness of the program.
The framework is based on the findings and recommendations of an independent review commissioned by the Australian government to assess the effectiveness of its aid program as it prepares to increase its official development assistance.
In its response to the review, the government said it agreed or agreed in principle with 38 of the 39 recommendations, which include increasing the country’s focus on humanitarian aid and disaster response and conducting an annual review of Australian aid effectiveness. The Australian government said it will further debate one of the review’s recommendations: adding the words “international development” to the title of the minister for foreign affairs.
The release of Australia’s revised aid framework and effectiveness review follows similar initiatives by other donors, particularly the United Kingdom and United States.
>> UK Releases Aid Review Results
Revised aid framework
The revised aid framework outlines a strategy on how the Australian government aims to increase the effectiveness of its aid program, including a “four-year whole-of-aid” budget strategy that will put together aid efforts of relevant government agencies under a single plan.
The government also reiterated its commitment to drive value for its aid money through reducing the number of expatriate consultants it hires by 25 percent over the next two years. The Australian foreign aid program has been under fire in the past months, with several experts and some officials of its recipient nations criticizing the salaries of advisers hired by the country for its overseas projects.
>> AusAID Advisers Still Receive High Salaries, Reports Say
The government also pledged to release a transparency charter that will detail information about Australian aid programs overseas and outlined plans to increase the role of Australian citizens and the country’s private sector in global development efforts.
Further, the framework identifies 10 objectives to guide Australian foreign aid efforts through 2015. These include improving public health through better water and sanitation facilities, increasing access to maternal and child health services, empowering women to participate in society and the economy, boosting food security, and enhancing disaster resilience in aid-recipient countries.
Australia will continue focusing its aid efforts on the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea, the government said. However, it added that it will implement the review’s recommendation to increase Australian aid to Africa and South Asia and to continue supporting development efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The country will provide more aid through government systems and local partners in Asia and the Pacific, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Elsewhere, Australia plans to deliver aid through partnerships with other donors, civil society groups and multilateral organizations. The government added that it plans to assess the country’s contributions to multilateral organizations this year.
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