Overview of Australia's aid program to Pakistan

How we are helping

2018-19 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$52.0 million

2019-20 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$19.0 million

2019-20 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$32.2 million

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

Over 2019-20 the Australian Government will provide an estimated $32.2 million in development assistance to Pakistan. This includes an estimated $19.0 million through the bilateral country program. Australia is Pakistan's sixth largest bilateral donor.

Pakistan faces complex challenges to realising its economic potential. Energy and infrastructure deficits, skills shortages, and regional instability constrain economic growth. Pakistan's trade continues to lag behind the rest of South Asia, at just 31 per cent of GDP.

With the population of 207 million (in 2017, 34 percent of whom are under 15) set to double by 2050, Pakistan needs to create approximately 1.5 million jobs a year for young people entering the labour market. In addition, lifting Pakistan's low female workforce participation from 24 per cent is critical. Promoting employment in the agriculture sector is central to Pakistan's economic future but weak markets, inefficient production, land ownership, adverse weather conditions, and water shortages continue to constrain the sector.

Around 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). Malnutrition and limited access to clean water and sanitation reduce the productivity of Pakistan's workforce and undermine population health. Provincial government leadership is essential to improve nutrition, education and gender equality.

Insecurity undermines Pakistan's stability and development, particularly in the provinces bordering Afghanistan. Economic and human development indicators in these areas are amongst the poorest in the country.

To help Pakistan face these challenges, the Australian aid program has three strategic objectives: (i) generating sustainable, inclusive economic growth and employment; (ii) investing in Pakistan's people with a focus on women and girls; and (iii) supporting stability and resilience.

Objective 1: Generating sustainable, inclusive growth and employment

Australian aid is engaging the public and private sectors to address constraints to increased trade and investment, improved agricultural productivity and market opportunities, 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 promote economic growth 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 economic growth and human development, and to regional security. Australia prioritises development assistance to Pakistan's insecure and disadvantaged border areas - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan. Our aid is promoting human development and economic growth in these regions, especially amongst the most vulnerable. We also aim to build the capacity of community organisations and government to deliver services, including during crises.

Supporting stabilisation and resilience

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 26,000 poor farmers through developing agribusiness and market opportunities
  • Helping Pakistan's Ministry of Commerce to strengthen its policies, institutions and regulations
  • Supporting the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to deliver quality education to over 43,800 children
  • Supporting 42,500 women and children's access to good nutrition and 300,000 children's access Vitamin A supplementation
  • Helping 3,800 women survivors of domestic violence to access support services
  • Providing 47 Australia Award scholarships for Pakistanis (including five with a disability) to undertake post-graduate study in Australia

Our changing program

Australia's aid program in Pakistan continues to make an important contribution to the country's development. The 2016-17 Pakistan Aid Program Performance Report concluded that our aid program was performing well in a challenging and complex operating environment but our agricultural research and trade policy programs needed further work to lift their performance.

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 a more explicit focus on women's empowerment and gender equality. It also led to the addition of a strategic objective on stability and resilience to reflect our investment in humanitarian assistance in Pakistan's border areas. We also committed to focus our aid program in Pakistan on fewer but larger projects over time.

Last Updated: 2 April 2019
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).