Tuvalu is a small island state in the Central Pacific Ocean with a population of 10,000 people. The island's isolation, its fragile natural environment and its low-lying atolls easily expose Tuvalu to environmental degradation caused by climate change, such as rising sea levels and changing weather patterns. While there is little absolute poverty, noticeable income inequalities exist across the country. Tuvalu has a narrow economic base limited to small-scale agriculture and artisanal fisheries. Its revenue base is heavily dependent on the sale of fishing licences and revenues from overseas investments. The nature of Tuvalu's micro-economy, which historically has relied heavily on aid to generate development and growth, is fragile. Recent rates of economic growth can be characterised as slow and unstable. The shortage of skilled labour and capital are the two primary constraints to poverty reduction.
Sustainable management of natural resources is a key element in Tuvalu's development agenda. Issues related to the reliable provision of water and sanitation, waste management, costal protection, disaster preparedness and renewable energy offer clear, result-oriented opportunities for Tuvalu-EU development cooperation. On this ground, it has been agreed that the priority sector of co-operation between the European Commission (EC) and Tuvalu under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) will be water and sanitation, including waste management and renewable energy. This has been outlined in the Country Strategy Paper for Tuvalu (2008-2013).
The EC's total allocation foreseen for Tuvalu under 10th EDF funding amounts to €5.4 million of which €4.4 million are earmarked for the priority sector. Additional assistance will be provided for programmes in support of non-state actors and trade-related issues.
The Country Strategy Paper for Tuvalu (2002-2007) focussed on social sector development in Tuvalu's outer islands under 9th EDF funding. Special emphasis was given to infrastructure assistance for rural primary schools, access to clean drinking water and environmental activities, in particular waste management.
Under the 9th EDF a grant of €3.3 million has been provided to fund the Outer Island Social Development Support Programme (OISDSP). Activities included the construction of four primary school buildings, the supply of new classroom furniture as well as the carrying out of maintenance work. In addition, primary and secondary schools were provided annually with school supplies.
For further details on projects and programmes in Tuvalu funded from the European Development Fund and the general budget of the EU, please visit the project's section of the website of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific on Fiji Island, responsible for Tuvalu.
Other sources of information
The Directorate-General for Development is responsible for drawing up the co-operation strategy with Tuvalu.
More information on EU relations with Tuvalu is available on the pages of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific on Fiji Island, which is also responsible for co-operation activities in Tuvalu.
Information on trade relations in the ACP region can be found on the website of the Directorate-General for Trade.