The small, isolated and mountainous Kingdom of Bhutan is in the eastern Himalayas, bordered on the north by China and on all other sides by India. About half of the country's 738,000 people live in remote areas. Bhutan has a strong sense of its own development needs and has led initiatives such as the Gross National Happiness Commission. In January 2012, Australia and Bhutan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on development cooperation and initiated annual high-level talks on bilateral cooperation. Australia is working with the Royal Government of Bhutan to address its development priorities, particularly in increasing human resource development and strengthening educational institutions.
Australia has invested $36.2 million on Bhutan in the previous three years. Some of the key results include:
- providing 226 Bhutanese with scholarships for tertiary education in Australia since 2007
- contributing to the primary enrolment ratio rising to 117 per cent in 2010 from 62 per cent in 2000
- supported UNICEF to commence reconstruction activities in schools affected by the 2009 earthquake.
More results can be viewed under the ‘See our results’ tab above.
Australia expects to provide $14 million in development assistance to Bhutan in 2012–13. Australia remains committed to delivering results in Bhutan and our development assistance is expected to have a resounding impact in future years. We will:
- provide 45 Australia Awards to post-graduate students for long-term study in Australia
- provide 10,000 students with two meals a day in 2012–13 through our support to the World Food Programme
- support the Royal Institute of Management to develop in-country Masters programs accredited by Australian universities.
More on expected outcomes can be viewed under the ‘See our results’ tab above.