Overview of Australia's aid program to Pakistan

How we are helping

2013/14 Actual:
$78.7 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate:
$79.0 million

Australia has strong interest in Pakistan given its size, economic potential, strategic position and influence on regional stability. Australia and Pakistan enjoy long-standing friendly relations underpinned by strong people-to-people links. Australia is committed to supporting Pakistan in its efforts to build economic prosperity and enhance human development.

Australian aid to Pakistan has grown considerably in the last decade. It is now Australia's tenth largest bilateral aid program. Australia is, however, a mid-sized donor in Pakistan's large economy—in 2012, Australian assistance to Pakistan represented 4.36 per cent of ODA, and 0.04 per cent of GDP.

Australia's development assistance in Pakistan promotes economic growth, poverty reduction and human development, including for women and girls. Australia's expertise in agriculture, water and education is particularly valued.

Pakistan faces immense development challenges and is a complex operating environment. At almost 200 million people, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world and is expected to grow to almost 300 million people by 2050. It needs to create 1.5 million new jobs a year to prevent a rise in unemployment. These jobs will only come from strong economic growth, which in turn needs a healthy, educated workforce. The economy has not fully recovered from the aftermath of the global financial crisis, with only modest economic growth, persistently high inflation and a rise in formal unemployment. Insecurity continues to undermine Pakistan’s stability and development, particularly in provinces bordering Afghanistan where economic and human development indicators are amongst the poorest in the country.

In 2013, Pakistan was categorised as a Low Human Development country, ranking 146 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. Five out of eight Millennium Development Goals were off track. Only 57 per cent of children were enrolled in primary school and only 50 per cent completed Grade 5. It is estimated that 30 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women are illiterate. Nationally, only 40 per cent of girls complete primary school, and in Balochistan province the girls' completion rate is 15 per cent.

Since 2003, health outcomes for Pakistan's people have improved but at a slower rate than neighbouring countries. Women's and children's health is a particular concern, with indicators on maternal and child health lagging behind other countries in the region. Malnutrition indicators for Pakistani women and children are among the highest in the world, and nutritional stunting among children under the age of 5 (43.7 per cent) has remained largely unchanged since 1965. This has a draining effect on the economy, and some estimates suggest malnutrition costs Pakistan 3 per cent of its GDP annually.

Pakistan has significant humanitarian needs—since 2000 there have been 88 natural disasters, which have killed 81,000 people, affected over 52 million and caused almost US$24 billion worth of damage. Better management of natural disasters is a prerequisite to sustaining growth and human capital gains.

Australia's aid program to Pakistan has two strategic priorities: Generating sustainable economic growth and employment through increased trade and investment, and improvements to agricultural productivity, water resources management and industry; and; investing in Pakistan's people through education and health.

Generating sustainable economic growth and employment

Australian aid will engage the public and private sectors to address constraints to sustainable economic growth and job creation. Our aid will help Pakistan improve agricultural productivity, including through improved water management practices, increase the value of agricultural products and improve access to markets for those products.

Generating sustainable economic growth and employment in Pakistan

Investing in Pakistan’s people through education and health

Accelerating progress in education and health services will enable Pakistan to make faster progress in economic growth and job creation and contribute to Pakistan’s stability. Australia will continue providing support to provincial governments to deliver basic health and education services, with a particular focus on women and girls.

Investing in Pakistan's people through education and health

Our results


  • More than 13,000 cataract surgeries were performed and more than 4,500 children have been screened for eye diseases.
  • More than 209,800 pregnant and breast-feeding women were screened for malnutrition and more than 41,400 women have been provided micro nutrient supplements and iron folate tablets.
  • More than 8,000 community midwives were trained and more than 4,800 have been deployed to support women and children in their communities.
  • 9,200 health care workers have been trained in improved management of newborn and childhood illnesses and maternal health.


  • 114 long and short-term Australia Awards were awarded to Pakistani students in 2013.
  • 254 early childhood education classrooms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan were refurbished for use by more than 67,000 children.
  • 7,300 teachers were trained in early childhood education principles, classroom management and disability-inclusive education in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan.

Economic development

  • Supported the completion of 445 community projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, repairing key infrastructure damaged by the 2010 floods such as roads and bridges, benefiting 89,182 households.
  • Provided agriculture assistance through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research that improved farming practices and increased farmers’ incomes in mango, citrus and dairy production.


  • 426,000 election officials were trained in election management in preparation for national and presidential elections in May 2013.
  • Supported the deployment of a nine-member electoral observation team by the Commonwealth Secretariat to monitor and report on the national elections.


  • Australian support provided 395,848 people with life-saving assistance in conflict and crisis situations.


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).