Delivering an Australian aid program: How DFAT taps the private sector for public good

By Lisa Cornish 17 March 2017

Power lines along a road in Cambodia. The 3i: Investing in Infrastructure aid program aims to increase access to utilities and infrastructure in the country. Photo by: shankar s. / CC BY

Australian aid programs delivered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been growing larger and more complex. Many projects nowadays involve long-term investments totaling tens of millions of dollars, and they demand private sector partnerships capable of handling complicated deliverables.

Palladium is one of DFAT’s major partners in delivering large-scale aid programs and 3i: Investing in Infrastructure is one of the biggest aid programs that Palladium is currently managing within Cambodia. The program, worth almost 50 million Australian dollars ($37.8 million), will operate until 2020 with the aim of increasing access to utilities and infrastructure and creating new trade opportunities.

3i is not the first DFAT program to engage the private sector, but it is the first to engage it on a large-scale infrastructure program. But how does such a large-scale and long-term program operate to achieve its goals? Devex spoke with key personnel in Canberra and on the ground in Cambodia for their insights.

Managing expectations

3i’s Canberra-based project manager, Alwyn Chilver, is a former AusAid employee who was instrumental in developing the strategy and concept of the program. The idea of engaging the private sector in a large infrastructure project came through earlier successful engagements in Cambodia with the Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain, or CAVAC, program.

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About the author

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Lisa Cornishlisa_cornish

Lisa Cornish is a Devex reporter based in Canberra, Australia. Lisa formerly worked with News Corp Australia as a data journalist for the national network and was published throughout Australia in major metropolitan and regional newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph in Melbourne, Herald Sun in Melbourne, Courier-Mail in Brisbane and online through Lisa additionally consults with Australian government providing data analytics, reporting and visualization services. Lisa was awarded the 2014 Journalist of the Year by the New South Wales Institute of Surveyors.

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