Overview of Australia's aid program to Pakistan

How we are helping

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$50.7 million

2017-18 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$39.4 million

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$47.1 million

Australia has strong interests in Pakistan given its size, economic potential and strategic position in South Asia. The Australian Government is committed to supporting Pakistan to build its economic prosperity, and promote sustainable, equitable development.

Over 2017-18 the Australian Government will provide an estimated $47.1 million in total ODA to Pakistan. This includes an estimated $39.4 million funding through the Pakistan bilateral country program. Our funding ranks Australia as the sixth largest donor to Pakistan.

Pakistan faces a number of challenges to realising its real economic potential. Economic growth is constrained by energy and infrastructure deficits, skills shortages, regional instability and other barriers to trade. Pakistan's trade continues to lag behind the rest of South Asia, at just 31 per cent of GDP. With the population set to double by 2050, Pakistan needs to create approximately 1.5 million jobs a year to absorb the large number of young people entering the labour market each year. Increasing Pakistan's female workforce participation from 25 per cent is critical. A job-enhancing and inclusive agriculture sector is central to Pakistan's economic future. However, the agriculture sector continues to be undermined by weak markets, production inefficiencies, land ownership issues, unregulated labour conditions, adverse weather conditions, and water shortages.

Pakistan's access to a strong and healthy workforce is affected by high malnutrition rates, including poor water and sanitation and maternal and child health issues. At the same time, improving Pakistan's education outcomes and increasing access to education is important for Pakistan's human development. It is estimated that 45 per cent of Pakistan's adult population is illiterate and over 5.3 million children do not attend school, of which 57 per cent are girls. Improved nutrition, education and gender outcomes, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable, will require provincial government leadership and effective, accountable service delivery systems.

Insecurity continues to undermine Pakistan's stability and development, particularly in the provinces bordering Afghanistan where economic and human development indicators are amongst the poorest in the country.  Frequent and devastating natural disasters further impede development outcomes and economic growth.

In this context, Australia's aid program promotes sustainable, inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction in Pakistan. The Pakistan aid program has three strategic objectives: (i) generating inclusive economic growth and employment; (ii) investing in Pakistan’s people with a focus on women and girls; and (iii) supporting stabilisation and resilience. (Please note these objectives were adjusted in the 2016-17 Annual Program Performance Report, as part of a refresh of our Aid Performance Assessment Framework for Pakistan.) In line with the Pakistan Aid Investment Plan 2015-16 to 2018-19, all our aid investments continue to emphasise support for women's empowerment, good governance and stability in Pakistan.

Objective 1: Generating sustainable, inclusive growth and employment

Australian aid is engaging the public and private sectors to address constraints to sustainable and inclusive economic growth and job creation through increased trade and investment, improved agricultural productivity and market development, and water resource management.

Generating sustainable, inclusive economic growth and employment in Pakistan

Objective 2: Investing in Pakistan’s people with a focus on women and girls

Australia is providing support to provincial governments to deliver nutrition, education and gender-based violence services, with a particular focus on women and girls. Accelerating progress in these areas will enable Pakistan to make faster progress in economic growth and job creation and contribute to Pakistan's stability.

Investing in Pakistan's people with a focus on women and girls

Objective 3: Supporting Stabilisation and Resilience

Pakistan’s stability is critical to both economic growth and human development, and broader regional security. Pakistan’s Vision 2025 policy links peace, security and stability approaches with development interventions.

Australia is working to support stability through its current and future aid investments. We prioritise support to Pakistan's insecure border areas - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan. These areas are amongst the most insecure and disadvantaged in Pakistan. Our investments promote human development, economic growth and prosperity in these regions, with a focus on the most vulnerable, and help build the coping capacity of community organisations and government to deliver services before, during and after crises.

Cross-cutting priorities

Australia's support to Pakistan is underpinned by three important cross-cutting themes – women's empowerment, good governance and stability. We recognise that progress in these areas is critical to Pakistan's ability to realise its development and economic objectives. All our investments address these issues in our policy approaches and delivery.

Our results

  • In 2016-17, the key achievements of Australia's aid program to Pakistan included:Supporting approximately 26,000 poor farmers to improve their income and employment opportunities
  • Supporting the Pakistan Ministry of Commerce to promote inclusive trade and investment through strengthened policies, institutions and regulations
  • Strengthening the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's capacity to deliver quality education - over 43,800 children supported to undertake basic education in 2016-17
  • Supporting 42,500 women and children to access nutrition services and 300,000 children Vitamin A supplementation
  • Helping 3,800 women survivors of domestic violence to access critical support services
  • Providing 47 Australia Award scholarships for Pakistani professionals (including five awardees with a disability) to undertake post-graduate study in Australia

Our changing program

In 2016-17, Australia’s aid program in Pakistan continued to make a valuable contribution to Pakistan’s development. The program remained focused on the poorest and most difficult to reach areas bordering Afghanistan, providing operational on-the-ground support and policy engagement at the federal and provincial levels.

Over 2016-17, a refresh of Australia’s Aid Performance Assessment Framework for Pakistan (PAF) resulted in some adjustments to the strategic objectives outlined in our Aid Investment Plan 2015-16 to 2018-19. The refresh resulted in amore explicit focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality at the strategic objective level.  It also led to the addition of a strategic objective on stability and resilience to reflect Australia’s aid investment profile including humanitarian assistance in the border areas. In addition, we committed to consolidate our investments over time.

Last Updated: 18 January 2017
Fruit and vegetable market in Multan, Punjab Province, Pakistan (credit: DFAT).
UNICEF Water, Environment and Sanitation Head Andrew Parker checks the water supply to a newly-built transitional school in Arja, near Bagh, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (credit: UNICEF).
A modern mango and banana farm near Mirpurkhas, Pakistan (credit: DFAT).