AUSTRALIA'S AID AGENCY HEAD VISITS THE PHILIPPINES
The newly-appointed Director General of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Mr Peter Baxter, visited the Philippines from 13-15 June.
This was Mr Baxter’s first visit to the Philippines as head of AusAID and he took the opportunity to review the Australian Government’s development cooperation program with the Philippines. The visit allowed Mr Baxter to assess how Australia could best continue to support the Philippines’ development challenges.
Mr Baxter met with a range of Philippine development experts and policy makers, and with other development partners including Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda and World Bank Country Director Bert Hofman.
Mr Baxter reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to work with the incoming Aquino Administration. “Australia will support efforts to improve the quality of education for Filipino children and help strengthen the government’s management of public finances,” he said.
Mr Baxter visited communities in Taguig City, Manila, who were affected by flooding associated with Typhoon Ondoy last year to see how Australian support was helping these communities rebuild.
Australia was one of the first and most generous countries to respond after the Ondoy, Pepeng, and Santi typhoons, contributing Php440 million (A$11m) in emergency funding for food, shelter, health care and clean water. Australia is also rehabilitating classrooms affected by the floods and helping ensure they will be resilient to any future disasters.
Mr Baxter observed a community meeting of beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Australia has worked with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the World Bank to design and implement the program which will help lift vulnerable Filipinos out of poverty.
“Australia is proud to be a partner in this innovative social welfare program that helps get cash payments to one million of the poorest families to ensure they receive regular health checks and keep their children in school,” Mr Baxter said.
Australia has provided assistance totalling about Php10 billion for education over the last five years. Australia works with the Department of Education to improve education policies and systems, train thousands of teachers, and introduce new learning strategies to keep more children in school. Since 2009, Australia has helped build over 400 classrooms to improve the learning conditions for thousands of children.
Australia’s official development assistance to the Philippines over the last five years is estimated at over Php20 billion, one of Australia’s largest country programs. The Australian Government will be engaging with the new Philippines government to ensure the next Philippines-Australia Development Assistance Strategy from 2011 is aligned with the government’s reform agenda.