Australian aid to Myanmar will more than double to $100 million per year by 2015, deepening our support for the people of Myanmar and the country's transition to democracy, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said today.
Senator Carr announced the aid increase after meetings with Myanmar's President Thein Sein and other Government Ministers in Nay Pyi Taw and met yesterday with Aung San Suu Kyi, other opposition figures and civil society representatives.
Australia is Myanmar's second largest bilateral aid donor.
Australia's aid program will grow from $48.8 million this year to $63.8 million next year — up more than 30 per cent.
"Over the next year our aid program will help around one million children to gain better access to education by providing essential school supplies, teacher training and food aid to schools in remote areas."
"We will improve health by providing life-saving vaccines and treatment to one million men, women and children, and help increase incomes and reduce hunger for up to two million people.
"Australia's aid program has supported the people of Myanmar over many years, but Myanmar's democratic transition has presented new opportunities to make a greater impact in reducing poverty and building capacity.
"Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in the world:
- only half of all children in Myanmar will complete primary school
- 70,000 children under five years old die each year, from largely preventable causes
- around 10 per cent of children under five are severely malnourished.
"Despite these appalling statistics, Myanmar receives only $8 per person in international assistance, compared with $68 for Laos, $49 for Cambodia and $39 for Vietnam.
"Australia's increased aid will make a real difference to reducing poverty by expanding programs in basic education, health and livelihoods, where we are already delivering results effectively and efficiently," Senator Carr said.
Senator Carr will visit Thit Kyar Kone Primary School and an Early Childhood and Development Centre near Yangon that is giving children a better opportunity to complete school by improving facilities, learning materials and teacher training. With this increase in aid, Australia will be the largest donor to the education sector in Myanmar.
Australia will also support Myanmar's wider economic, political and social reform program. This includes assisting the peace process through development activities in conflict-affected areas and supporting legal reform, for example advancing and protecting the rights of children.
Senator Carr said Australia will be at the forefront of efforts to coordinate assistance with other donors and will work with the Myanmar Government to identify aid priorities and build its capacity to deliver essential services.
"As democratic reforms continue, we hope to establish a formal relationship on development cooperation, just as we have with other countries in South-East Asia," Senator Carr said.
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