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Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands in the South Pacific and belongs to the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The small island state is one of the most disaster prone nations in the region. It is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, such as cyclones, flooding, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, many of which will be exacerbated by climate change. The development of Vanuatu is constrained by its relatively narrow export base. The economy depends to a large extent on the primary sectors agriculture, forestry and fishing, which provide a living for the majority of Vanuatu's population. Services, in particular tourism, account for 40% of the GDP and represent the most important source of income, together with real estate and wholesale and retail trade. Much of the growth in recent years has been driven by these sectors. Vanuatu heavily invests in social services, especially education. The country has made significant progress in improving social indicators, such as live expectancy and infant mortality.
In Vanuatu, the main priority is to support the Government's own Prioritised Action Agenda to help the country to progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. This will be done, inter alia, by assisting to develop an environment for private sector-led economic growth and to create economic and employment opportunities for both men and women through human resources development. Therefore, it has been agreed that the priority sector of co-operation between the European Commission (EC) and Vanuatu under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) will be support to economic growth and creation of employment, including human resources development, in particular vocational training and capacity building. This has been outlined in the Country Strategy Paper for Vanuatu (2008-2013).
The EC's initial allocation foreseen for Vanuatu under 10th EDF funding amounts to €23.2 million. Approximately 40% of the programmable funds have also been earmarked for general budget support. In this context special attention will be given to implementing a sector approach in the field of education. Additional EC assistance to Vanuatu will provide support to initiatives run by non-state actors (NSA) as well as to capacity building activities.
EC interventions in Vanuatu also take account of cross-cutting issues, in particular good governance, gender equality, environmental sustainability and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
The main thrust of the Country Strategy Paper for Vanuatu (2002-2007) under the 9th EDF was to support human resources development. The education and training programme (EDUTRAIN), aiming to improve access to education after primary school and to increase the quality of education, has been the second largest programme worth €4.5 million. Education as well as health was also accounted for in the funds provided for general budget support (€4.75 million).
Essential inputs to the vital tourism industry have been provided by the Tourism Education and Training Project (VATET) and its successor, the Vanuatu Tourism and Economic Growth project (VTEG). The purpose of these initiatives is to increase capacities and services within the tourism and hospitality industry to match international standards as well as to promote the development of sustainable tourism at provincial level. The main components are the construction and operation of a new tourism and hospitality training centre, the development of a high-standards training programme and supporting provinces to develop and implement tourism plans. These elements help to provide skilled human resources for the sector. This, in turn, contributes to the sustainable development of the national economy and ultimately poverty reduction. For further details on projects and programmes in Vanuatu 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 to Vanuatu.
Other sources of information
The Directorate-General for Development is responsible for drawing up the co-operation strategy with Vanuatu.
More information on EU relations with Vanuatu is available on the pages of the Delegation of the European Union to Vanuatu, which is responsible for co-operation activities in the country.
Information on trade relations in the ACP region can be found on the website of the Directorate-General for Trade.