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Pakistan is the sixth most populated country in the world, and children make up almost half its population. Poverty is a huge problem, with 45% of its workers earning less than $2 a day.

We're working hard to save lives and give children an education, but there's much more to do.

In Pakistan, 8% of children die before they're five - the second highest rate in Asia after Afghanistan. That's why we're focused on improving children's healthcare in their early years.

We're redeveloping clinics and health services in the poorest and hardest-to-reach areas of Pakistan to make sure mums and babies get the care they need.

We're also running programmes to improve diagnosis and treatment of malaria, and provide better care for people living with HIV.

Protecting the most vulnerable

We work to protect children who are at risk of violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect. Our teams push for policy change and help to develop national child protection structures, and we're helping communities to develop ways to keep their children safe.

Our programmes also tackle child labour. Many children in Pakistan have to work long hours in dangerous jobs to support their families. We help children leave work and get back to school by helping families to find and develop new sources of income.

In two provinces, we're also protecting children who come into contact with the law. We ensure children are detained separately from adults and provide them with psychosocial support.

Zahra, 12, at home with her father and younger brother in Lahore, Pakistan.

Zahra, 12, at home with her father and younger brother in Lahore, Pakistan.

Supporting lifelong learning

Worldwide, it's estimated that one in ten out-of-school children lives in Pakistan. That's why we're supporting children's education from their early years through to middle and secondary school, and helping make sure girls stay in school.

Our Literacy Boost initiative is supporting teachers, parents and communities to help children develop stronger reading skills early in life. The programme aims to encourage reading both inside and outside of school, giving children a firm foundation for learning throughout their lives.

When disaster strikes

Our humanitarian teams have been responding to emergencies in Pakistan since 1979. In 2005, we supported families affected by the Pakistan earthquake. When devastating floods hit in 2010 and 2011, we reached more than four million people with emergency aid. And in 2009 we helped people displaced by military operations in the Swat Valley.

Across all our programmes, we work with communities to prepare them for emergencies and reduce the impact of disasters.

Pakistan floods 2022

Pakistan suffered from severe monsoon weather in the summer of 2022, which caused the worst flooding to hit the country in decades. A third of the country was under water – affecting 33 million people, of which 16 million were children.

Flash flooding from monsoon rains submerged thousands of homes, washing away towns and villages, leaving many people homeless and exposed to the elements.

Nearly 24,000 schools were damaged or destroyed, with a further 5,500 schools used as temporary shelters. This disrupted schooling for more than 670,000 children.

The floods also damaged over two million acres of crops, and killed more than 1.1 million livestock. This increased the price of food and left millions on the brink of starvation.

A combination of communities surrounded by large areas of contaminated water, damage to clean water supplies and sanitation systems, and hot, humid weather precipitated an increase in the spread of deadly waterborne diseases including cholera, as well as related vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

Our response

  • We provided food items to the families who didn't know where their next meal will come from. This prevents families from resorting to negative coping mechanisms that adversely affect children, such as cutting back on meals, sending children to work or promoting early marriage
  • We set up temporary learning spaces to make sure that displaced children still had access to education
  • We establised child protection services to protect children from the increased risk of exploitation and abuse
  • We delivered free, essential healthcare and nutrition services to provide lifesaving treatment as well as provide critical services to protect children from secondary illnesses and diseases caused by lack of food or access to clean water.

Page updated December 2022

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