DFID’s bilateral aid to Pakistan

Pakistan is a large country facing major development challenges. This review looks at DFID’s work in health, education and humanitarian assistance.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 17 October 2012
  3. Type: Other
  4. Subject: Country focus
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Pakistan
  7. Lead commissioner: Diana Good

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We gave the DFID Pakistan programme a green-amber rating and made four recommendations. Overall, we found it to be dynamic and innovative, with a range of impressive initiatives.

Pakistan was unlikely to achieve its Millennium Development Goals on education and maternal and child health by 2015. Challenges were compounded by significant levels of violence, high corruption risks and recurring natural disasters, including the 2010 floods, which affected an area four times the size of Britain.


This report found many commendable aspects to DFID Pakistan’s work:

  • The education programme shows a sophisticated design and some promising early results, including improving education quality. We welcome experiments in working with the low-cost private sector as a potentially cost-effective way of reaching out-of-school children. It is too early to assess whether the results are sustainable and scalable.
  • The humanitarian work shows good evidence of learning and a strong focus on value for money. There are good results for the modest scale of investment but Pakistan’s lack of preparedness for future disasters is concerning.
  • The health programme, however, has faced major difficulties over its life, which we believe should have been addressed in a more timely fashion. The difficult institutional environment clearly undermined impact. The programme is now undergoing substantial redesign.

UK aid to Pakistan had scaled up dramatically, from £87 million in 2007-08 to a planned £446 million in 2014-15.  DFID had not delivered programmes on this scale in Pakistan before. This challenge is magnified by the difficulties of working in insecure provinces, weaknesses in budgetary processes and public financial management systems and recent constitutional reform devolving federal power to the four provinces, which is leading to uncertainty. This suggests that active risk management should be applied to programme scale-up.


  1. To manage the risks associated with scaling up funding in a difficult and volatile environment, DFID Pakistan should ensure that the conditions for scaling up its programmes are clearly articulated and that it retains the flexibility to reallocate funding away from under performing areas. The country programme should also be better balanced across government and non-government delivery channels.
  2. DFID should increase its support for promoting affordable and equitable private sector delivery of health and education services to poor communities. It should focus on building government capacity to regulate the private sector, improve standards and monitor delivery.
  3. Building resilience to natural disasters at the household and community levels should become a core element of the DFID Pakistan programme. This also provides an opportunity to diversify delivery channels.
  4. When funding through country systems, DFID programmes should include agreed standards for budget integrity as a condition of scaling up. There should be a major emphasis on promoting transparency and accountability in budget processes and on increasing the amount of beneficiary involvement in the delivery and oversight of programmes.


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Review publication

Published 17 October 2012

Government response

Published 9 May 2013

ICAI follow-up

Published 12 June 2014