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Committee to scrutinise UK aid programme in Pakistan

11 February 2021

The International Development Committee has re-launched an inquiry into UK aid to Pakistan. Pakistan is the top recipient country of UK aid and was a strategic priority for the Department for International Development (DFID).

Aid to Pakistan

Pakistan faces development challenges ranging from poverty, education, healthcare and climate change. Almost a third of Pakistan’s population lives in poverty and 22.6 million children do not go to school and half of the population, including two thirds of women, cannot read or write. Further to this, one in 11 children die before their fifth birthday, every year 9,700 women die in childbirth and 44% of children under five are stunted. Pakistan also feels the effects of climate change more than many other countries with it being more at risk of natural disasters such as severe floods, landslides and earthquakes.

Pakistan has been DFID’s largest country programme for the last five years, and was expected to amount to £302 million in 2019/20, spanning across areas including human development, climate and the environment, and humanitarian aid. This inquiry will assess the effectiveness of the UK Government’s development policy towards Pakistan, considering its strategic focus, coherence, performance and value for money. It will look at aid administered both by the FCDO and by other government departments.

Between 2018 and 2019, UK aid – across all government departments – to Pakistan saw 53% spent on human development (including health and education); 29% on economic development; 10% on governance and security; 5% on climate and the environment; and 3% on humanitarian aid.

Terms of reference

The International Development Committee invites written submissions, with a deadline of Friday 16 April 2021, on the effectiveness of UK aid to Pakistan, in particular: Strategy, coherence and alignment

  • Are the UK's strategic aims for its Pakistan aid programme clear and appropriate?
  • Are other aspects of the UK/Pakistan relationship coherent and well-coordinated with the aid programme and its aims and objectives?
  • To what extent is there effective joined up strategy and delivery across the country portfolio?
  • To what extent is UK aid spending in Pakistan integrated, coordinated and responsive to:
    (i) the priorities and commitments of the Government of Pakistan?
    (ii) the views and needs of communities in Pakistan
    (iii) multilateral, and other bilateral, donors' programmes in Pakistan?

Focus and scale

  • How effective is UK aid in Pakistan in supporting its progress towards achieving the SDGs?
  • To what extent is UK aid in Pakistan focused on the poorest, most marginalised and most vulnerable people in that country?
  • Is the level of the UK's aid spending in Pakistan appropriate in order to achieve long-lasting change?


  • How effective are the partners (NGOs, private contractors and multilateral agencies) through which UK aid is delivered in Pakistan?
  • What are the key risks (and mitigations) to the value for money, effectiveness and impact of UK aid projects and programmes in Pakistan?


  • What are the main safeguarding challenges for aid delivery in Pakistan and how well are these being addressed in UK aid projects and programmes?


  • Are there adequate processes of independent evaluation and self-evaluation built into the country programme?
  • What evidence is there of lesson-learning and turning learning into action?


  • How has UK aid responded to the challenges of covid-19 in Pakistan, and how effective has this response been?

Announcements of oral evidence sessions will be made in due course.


In June 2019, the predecessor IDC launched an inquiry into UK aid to Pakistan but did not take any oral evidence before Parliament was dissolved. This inquiry follows on from that work.

Pakistan faces a number of substantial development challenges. Figures provided by DFID stated that:

  • Almost a third of Pakistan’s population lives in poverty (over 60 million people), with women most seriously affected
  • 22.6 million children do not go to school and half of the population, including two thirds of women, cannot read or write
  • One in eleven children die before their fifth birthday, every year 9,700 women die in childbirth and 44% of children under five are stunted
  • Pakistan’s population is set to grow by 40 million people in the next 15 years and the economy needs to grow by more than 7% a year to create enough jobs
  • There is major inequality based on geography, gender, ethnicity, disability and faith and a significant modern slavery problem amongst the poor, minorities, women and children
  • Pakistan carries a high risk of natural disasters; it has the second highest number of refugees in the world and continues to suffer from extremism and militancy.

The UK delivers further official development assistance (ODA) aid to Pakistan through the cross-Government Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) on democracy (£8m ODA in 2018/19) and the rule of law (£9m ODA in 2018/19) – the latter includes work to increase Pakistan’s civilian capacity to prosecute terrorists in line with international standards. Pakistan also receives ODA administered by other UK Government Departments such as HMRC and from the Scottish Government (focusing on education and skills).

Further information

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