Pakistan: Empowering the Most Vulnerable and Marginalized

April 11, 2014


Sufia Aslam works in the two-seat beauty shop she started with the help of a loan from the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund.

Muzammil Pasha/World Bank

From the initiation of its World Bank funded activities through the International Development Agency (IDA) in 2000 to the end of December 2013, the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) had disbursed a cumulative total of US$ 885 million to 120 Partner Organizations across the country. PPAF-III's development objective is to empower the targeted poor with increased incomes, improved productive capacity, and access to services to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Since the inception of the Third Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF III) in July 2009 approximately 10 million vulnerable and marginalized people have benefited from the program interventions, with over half of them being women.


In working with the poor and marginalized communities in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Areas - who are in dire need of assistance and support - widespread militancy  and insecurity remain a major challenge. Recurring conflict and insecurity created major hurdles and delays in effective project implementation. At times partner organizations (POs) had to pull out of the troubled areas, suspend work temporarily and close field offices. Certain partner organizations suffered considerably and lost valuable field staff to acts of terrorism. The POs are regularly in contact with the local administration and security forces to maintain a delicate balance and to allow them mobility to work with the people in the highly volatile regions.

Natural disasters have also had a profound impact on the lives of PPAF supported communities. The earthquake of 2005, floods of 2010 and 2011 and most recently the Balochistan earthquake of 2013 negatively impacted project outputs and outcomes, and created much distress for communities. This has meant that disaster relief and rehabilitation often has to take precedence in those areas where PPAF works.


As part of the lessons learned under PPAF-I and II, this program built in a stronger focus on the most vulnerable and poorest households. There was an especially strong focus on poor women and livelihoods, and this has borne fruit in terms of women’s active participation as members of community institutions and as microcredit borrowers. With an appropriate set of skills, the institutions of the poor are now emerging as the primary stakeholders for both private and public sector engagement. Even in insecure areas they have demonstrated their capability and effectiveness as partners in development.


The Bank has supported the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) since 2000. During this time the following results have been achieved:

Social mobilization and institution building: Nearly two million people have mobilized since inception, and approximately 122,000 institutions of the poor formed across the country. 660,000 staff and community members have been trained over the period as well.

Microcredit: Altogether, 6.3 million individuals availed micro credit with 58% of the loans given to women. Average repayment rate is maintained at 98% to POs and 100% to PPAF.

Empowering PPAF Communities through EasyPaisa:  In order to provide financial services to the poor and un-banked communities, PPAF and Telenor are conducting a pilot to test the benefits of mobile/branchless banking facilities (e.g. deposits, withdrawals, local and international remittances and utility bill payments), in the form of an ‘Easy Paisa Shop,’ for people without easy access to formal banking services. The pilot project is spread across six locations, which include Lasbela (Balochistan), Tharparkar (Sindh), Swat (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Skardu (Gilgit Baltistan), Multan (Punjab), and Islamabad Rural.

" Each day when I walk down this path, I feel so much pride in myself and my village. Together, we worked so hard to make this little road, this big dream of ours come true.  "

Naeem Ahmed, 42


Mohammad Shafiq works in the cell-phone repair shop he started with the help of loans from PPAF.

Muzammil Pasha/World Bank

Basic Services and Infrastructure:  23,115 water and infrastructure projects have been undertaken and 1,843 health and education projects supported since 2000.  Over 12 million people have benefitted from the water and infrastructure projects. Nearly 175,000 children have been enrolled in schools (45% girls) and 10.7 million people have benefited from PPAF supported health interventions – and user surveys show that 60% of beneficiaries report satisfaction with the services provided.  Research conducted by World Bank’s Development Research Group (DECRG) on community infrastructure projects has concluded that these interventions are “…more pro-poor, less exclusionary, better maintained, better documented projects than those delivered by other channels”.

Drought Mitigation and Preparedness Program (DMPP): PPAF has made a considerable investment in the development of the DMPP in order to strengthen the resilience capacity and preparedness of communities to handle successive drought cycles through local level interventions, policy formulations and awareness raising campaigns. The DMPP has encouraged the communities to re-cultivate their lands, which has led to increase in per acre yield and hence have secured their access to sufficient food.  Farmers have also established early warning systems to adjust & adapt and plan response to drought.  DMPPs have brought about a change in behavior of the community as well.  In some areas, the farmers are changing cropping pattern by cultivating high yield cash crops and low delta crops. 

Supporting rural livelihoods: 182,000 individuals received skills/entrepreneurial trainings, and 47,400 assets have been transferred to ultra and vulnerable poor households. Moreover, 26,279 individuals including women and youth were provided training on enterprise development and business plan preparation under Waseela-e-Haq National & Waseela-e-Haq Sindh programs of the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) and were facilitated in establishing successful ventures. The project also rehabilitated 18,500 persons with disabilities providing a number of them with enterprise opportunities as well.  

In Swat, a pilot study is currently under evaluation where social entrepreneurs have re-trained local technicians in installing and maintaining solar energy products, and with training received from PPAF’s local PO, have been trained in marketing and selling the solar energy lamps to meet the community’s energy needs.

Since the inception of the Third Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF III) in July 2009 approximately 10 million vulnerable and marginalized people have benefitted from the program interventions, with over half of them being women. The Bank's efforts helped extend 315,000 micro-loans with an 83% Return on Investment (ROI). 125,000 children (45% girls) were enrolled in 896 project supported schools and 6.5 million patients (55% women) were treated under various ailments in 482 project supported health facilities. A total of 407,700 individuals of which 61% are women, were trained in different skills.  Productive assets have been transferred to 47,400 ultra and vulnerable poor (50% women). Moreover, 4,600 community infrastructure sub-projects have been initiated in program areas benefiting approximately 2 million people.  PPAF's achievement of most target indicators in the Project Appraisal Document provide significant evidence that the approach used for PPAF-III is appropriate and effective in the context of Pakistan.


Young residents of Aheer in Gujar Khan district, walk on the paved streets of the village.

VNA/WB Pakistan

Bank Contribution

The International Development Agency (IDA) allocated and disbursed $250 million to the Third Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund for the Social Mobilization and Institution Building, Livelihood enhancement and protection, Micro-credit access, Basic Services and Infrastructure and Project Implementation Support.


The Bank worked with the Government of Pakistan through the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, which channeled the financing for the project from IDA.

10 million
vulnerable and marginalized persons benefited from the project interventions.