Children in Pakistan face a variety of serious challenges, including malnutrition and poor access to education and health services. Traditional mores and the influence of extremism contribute to a resistance to girls' education, as well as suspicion of health initiatives such as vaccination. The situation of children and women varies greatly throughout the country and is especially poor in rural areas, including Balochistan Province, which has been affected by a long-running insurgency. In the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which border Afghanistan and parts of which are currently affected by conflict, adult female literacy is only 7 per cent.
Conflict, political turmoil, natural disasters and economic instability have posed major challenges to the well-being of children and women in Pakistan in recent years. Fighting between the government and militants in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in 2008-09 displaced a total of 2.7 million people at its peak, in the largest displacement crisis since the country was formed in 1947. While 1.66 million of the displaced have returned home since the area was largely pacified in recent months, the challenges facing children and women amongst both returnees and those still displaced are great. Fighting is now taking place in FATA’s South Waziristan, and at least 275,000 people have been displaced. Suicide bombs and attacks targeting UN staff and other humanitarian actors are of major concern as well, since security is paramount to delivering assistance to those in need.
The recent conflict has rendered still more vulnerable the situation of children and women in Pakistan, a country already ranked 136th out of 177 countries on the Human Development Index. A series of natural disasters in recent years has also taken its toll. In 2005, north-western Pakistan experienced a major earthquake that killed over 73,000 people and devastated health and education infrastructure. On its heels followed a 2007 cyclone and flooding in 2008. Food and power shortages have also affected the country, as well as economic troubles predating the global financial crisis, which contributed to high unemployment.
This map is stylized and not to scale. It does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory, or the delimitation of any frontiers. The final status of Jammu and Kashmir has not yet been agreed upon by the parties.
UNICEF in Action
With Pakistan's recent history and vulnerability to natural disasters, UNICEF works to ensure that its programmes incorporate emergency preparedness and disaster response. To improve maternal and child health and care, UNICEF supports strengthening services by supporting training for health workers and managers. Parallel community-based communication activities increase the use of services and good practices such as exclusive breastfeeding. UNICEF also supports vaccination campaigns and school-based health and hygiene programmes, as well as safe drinking water and hygiene practices including Community-Led Total Sanitation to eliminate open defecation. School sanitation programmes also contribute to increasing enrolment, especially for girls. Child-friendly schools with greater community engagement are key aspects of the education strategy, along with a focus on early childhood education to improve enrolment, retention and school performance. Federal and provincial level partnerships to improve health, water and sanitation, nutrition and education for Pakistani children also extend to developing child protection networks and advocacy promoting child-centred policymaking and ensuring that vulnerable children and adolescents are protected from abuse and exploitation, and have the knowledge to protect themselves from HIV.
UNICEF in Emergencies
UNICEF in Pakistan
In Emergencies, UNICEF also works in Pakistan with:
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC); Institute for Development Studies and Practices (IDSP); Participatory Integrated Development Society (PIDS); Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP); Water Environment and Sanitation Society (WESS); Concern Worldwide; Ujala Welfare Society; Merlin; Society for Empowering Human Resource (SEHER); Society for Community Support for Primary Education in Balochistan (SCSPEB); Gynaecological Department Hayatabad Medical Complex and Paediatric Units of Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar and Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar; Merlin, Islamic Relief; Relief International; Johanniter International; Community Development Organization (CDO); Centre for Educational Research Development (CERD); NWFP Boys Scouts Association; Pakistan Village Development Programme (PVDP); Health Society; Awaz Foundation; Step Towards Empowerment of Pupils (STEP); Local Government and Rural Development Department (LGRDD); Society for Sustainable Development (SSD); Human Resource Development Society (HRDS); Human Development Organization Doaba (HDOD); Community Development and Research Organization (CDRO); Community Development Initiative; Abaseen Foundation; Youth Resource Centre (YRC); International Rescue Committee (IRC); National Commission for Human Development; National Rural Support Programme; Pakistan Village Development Programme; NWFP Provincial Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (PERRA); Public Health Engineering Departments in PAK and NWFP; School Sanitation and Hygiene Education Resource Centre in NWFP; State Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (SERRA); American Refugee Committee; Ibne Sina; International Medical Corps-UK; Mercy Corps; Merlin; Relief International; Saudi Public Assistance; UNICEF National Committees; Action Contre la Faim; Agence d’Aide a la Cooperation Technique et au Développement; Arche Nova; Association for the International Cooperation and the Humanitarian Aid; ATV; Concern; Diakoni; Helping Hands; Human Resource Development Society; Integrated Development Social Programme; International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC); International Rescue Committee; Islamic Relief International; Istituto Sindacale per la Cooperazione e lo Sviluppo; Japanese Agency for Development and Emergency; Japanese Emergency NGOs; Mrasta; Muslim Aid; Norwegian Refugees Council; Oxfam GB; Samaritan’s Purse; Save the Children (Sweden); Save the Children (United Kingdom); Solidarites; Almustafa Development Network; Al-Rehman Trust; Basic Education and Employable Skill Training; Bulandi; Dosti Development Foundation; Haashar Association; Hayat Foundation; Human Development Organisation; Lahore University; PAK Community Development Programme; Pakistan Boys Scouts; Pakistan Girl Guide Association; Pakistan Voluntary Health and Nutrition Association (PAVHNA); Peace Foundation; People in Need (PIN); Sabawon; Sahar; Salik Development Foundation; Satellite Comm. FM 101; Shaheen Rural Development Organisation; Society for Sustainable Development; Sukhi Development Foundation; Sustainable Peace and Development Organization (SPADO); Tanzeem-e-Nujawanan-e-Batagram; Taraqee Foundation; The Humanitarian; Trust Volunteer Organisation; Water Environment and Sanitation Network; Youth Alliance for Human Rights (YAHR).
A Sami Malik, Mobile: