Australian High Commission

Development Cooperation

Development Cooperation



Australia's Aid Program

The Australian Government’s aid program works to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and enhance stability, with a strengthened focus on our region, the Indo-Pacific.

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

Pakistan is at the heart of a regional market with a large population, diverse resources, and untapped potential for trade. However, Pakistan faces a number of challenges to realising its true economic potential. Economic growth is constrained by energy and infrastructure deficits, skills shortages, regional instability and other barriers to trade. Pakistan’s access to a strong and healthy workforce is further affected by high malnutrition rates, poor water and sanitation practices and other health issues, such as polio. At the same time, improving Pakistan’s education outcomes and increasing access to education is important for Pakistan’s human development. Nevertheless, 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. The Pakistan government estimates the direct and indirect costs of terrorism over the last 13 years have been USD102.51 billion. Frequent natural disasters further impede development outcomes and economic growth. Between 2000 and 2015, there have been over 97 natural disasters, which have killed over 83,000 people, affected nearly 48 million and caused in excess of USD26 billion worth of damage. Pakistan is still recovering from devastating floods in 2010 and 2011.

In this context, Australia's aid program aims to contribute to sustainable, inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction in Pakistan, through two strategic objectives:

  1. Generating sustainable growth and employment through increased trade and investment, and improvements to agricultural productivity, water resources management and industry, and
  2. Investing in Pakistan's people through health and education.

Through all of our aid investments Australia emphasises support for women's empowerment, stability and governance in Pakistan.

These objectives align with and support Pakistan's development policy, Vision 2025, which focuses on sustainable economic growth as a key driver for poverty reduction as well as Australia's own development policy Australian aid: promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, enhancing stability and its six priorities: trade facilitation and international competitiveness; agriculture and water; effective governance: policies, institutions and functioning economies; education and health; building resilience; and women's empowerment.

Delivery of the Australian aid program is a whole-of-government effort which harnesses specific experience, skills and knowledge across a range of Australian Government agencies such the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Generating sustainable 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, and improvements to agricultural productivity, water resources management and industry. Our development investments provide business and innovation support to the private sector in ways that benefit the poor through expanding jobs and lifting incomes, particularly for women.

Australia will support Pakistan to address constraints to job creation. In rural areas, we will increase livelihood opportunities for poor men and women. Australia will draw on its world-class expertise to help Pakistan enhance agricultural productivity and expand revenue streams for farmers, including through improved water management practices, adding value to raw agricultural products and improved access to markets for those products. This will also contribute to improving Pakistan’s food security and nutrition levels, and women’s economic empowerment.

Australia is also supporting the Ministry of Commerce to promote inclusive trade and investment through: strengthening trade policies and institutions; modernising customs systems; and introducing regulatory reforms to increase trade at key border posts, and support small to medium sized enterprises (particularly women owned).

Australia will also explore further Pakistan’s needs and opportunities to leverage Australian assistance in the energy and water sectors. Similarly, we will continue to explore policy and technical exchange opportunities for a well-governed resources sector in Pakistan.

Related investmenets:

  • Pakistan Trade and Investment Policy Program
  • Women’s Economic Empowerment and Market Development Program Agriculture Sector Linkages Program II
  • Australian Assistance to Agriculture Development in Balochistan Border Areas
  • Market Development Facility
  • Pakistan Water Resource Management

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.

In the health sector, Australia is focused on improving nutrition outcomes. Australia’s investment in Pakistan’s 2011 national nutrition survey led to the development of a multi-donor trust fund for nutrition, in which Australia was the founding donor. Australia also invests in nutrition-sensitive programs, such as school feeding programs, and adapting agriculture investments to improve nutrition and water and sanitation.

In the broader health sphere, Australia will looks for opportunities to support Pakistan and other development partners’ efforts to combat infectious disease and threats to health security, such as polio, through its contributions to global and regional health initiatives.

Our education investments focus on supporting the government’s capacity to deliver quality education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to increase the number of girls and boys who enrol in and successfully complete primary and secondary education. This is further augmented by theAustralia Awards program, which is a prestigious international scholarships funded by the Australian Government. Australia Awards offer the next generation of global leaders an opportunity to undertake study and professional development in Australia. Awards align with the focus of Australia’s development assistance to Pakistan, targeting human resource gaps in identified priority sectors and fields, and aim to provide awardees with the skills and knowledge to drive change and influence economic and social development.

Related investments:

  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Sector Plan
  • Integrated Maternal and Newborn Child Health in Balochistan
  • Pakistan-Australia Prevention of Avoidable Blindness Project
  • World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Nutrition
  • World Food Programme Policy Level Support for the National Fortification Alliance
  • Australia Awards Pakistan

Multi-sectoral policy priorities

Australia’s support to Pakistan is underpinned by three important cross-cutting themes – women’s empowerment, stability and governance. We recognise that progress in these areas is critical to Pakistan’s ability to realise its development and economic objectives.

Women’s Empowerment

Gender equality is a core policy priority for Australia. Our focus on women’s economic empowerment, especially through women’s involvement in market development and trade, will help women lift themselves and their families out of poverty and participate more in the country’s growing economy. Our aid investments in education and health provide girls with the foundational skills for productive lives. Moreover, Australia has zero tolerance towards violence against women and girls, which is a fundamental barrier to the rights of women and girls, undermines a country’s social fabric and costs billions of dollars in health care and reduced economic productivity.

Related investments:

  • Challenging Gender Based Violence Program


Pakistan’s stability is critical to both economic growth and human development, and regional security. Instability undermines economic growth, discourages private sector investment and results in high unemployment rates, particularly among youth. As such, where possible, Australia will prioritise its support to Pakistan's insecure border areas - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan. As these areas are amongst the most insecure and disadvantaged in Pakistan. Our investments promote human development, economic growth and prosperity in Pakistan’s insecure border regions, and  helps to build the capacity of community organisations and government to deliver services, especially after crises.

Further to investments in stability, Australia is also committed to providing life saving humanitarian assistance in times of crisis to support Pakistan’s most vulnerable. Most recently, Australia provided much needed rehabilitation support to those affected by the October 2015 Earthquake.

Related investments:

  • World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas Balochistan
  • As needed crisis based Humanitarian Assistance administered through the World Food Programme (over AUD90million in the last five years)


Poor governance affects virtually all aspects of a country’s prosperity. An effective public sector and functioning, predictable institutions provide the foundations for economic growth, private sector investment and trade. Well-functioning institutions generate revenue and redistribute income. They deliver and implement appropriate policies in fields such as education and health and deliver services that are essential for building a skilled, productive and healthy workforce. As many of these services are delivered at the provincial level in Pakistan, the Australian aid program supports provinces to deliver critical services in education, nutrition and rural infrastructure.  Our aid investments also work at the local level to empower communities to prioritise and address development problems, while our policy dialogue focuses on the critical role that leaders, networks and coalitions play in promoting reforms and achieving development outcomes.

Related investments:

  • Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas Balochistan

The Direct Aid Program

The Direct Aid Program (DAP) is a flexible, small grants scheme for development activities managed by Heads of Australian Missions in approximately 45 countries. The emphasis of the program is on alleviating basic humanitarian hardships while at the same time advancing Australia\'s international relations and public diplomacy objectives.

DAP is available to individuals, community groups and NGOs engaged in development activities, in designated countries, on a not-for-profit basis. The program is aimed primarily at supporting small-scale development projects and activites that involve beneficiaries directly in the identification, design and management of the projects.