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Over the last 10 years, around 15 per cent of the Australian aid budget was spent through two multilateral development banks (MDBs): the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank. Close to two-thirds of this was given as non-core funding (funding earmarked for a specific purpose or region). Through these contributions the aid program has supported work in a wide range of settings, from building bridges and roads in the Greater Mekong Subregion, reconstruction in Afghanistan, health sector development in Cambodia, and education reform in the Philippines.

Australia’s emphasis on non-core funding is stronger than most other donors, and has grown over time. In 2013–14, Australia provided almost 10 times as much non-core funding as in
2005–06. These contributions have grown in number as well as value; Australia’s non-core contributions to the ADB and World Bank between 2005–06 and 2012–13 supported 325 projects worth $4.1 billion.  Despite aid budget cuts, non-core contributions to MDBs are likely to remain a prominent feature of Australia’s aid program.

The evaluation by the Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE) looked at what the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) can do to improve the way it manages its partnerships with the ADB and World Bank, to get the most out of these investments in the future.

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