Advancing partnerships for human development

Apr 11, 2017

For the past quarter century, development initiatives have been framed around the belief that the wealth of a nation is not exclusively measured through economic indicators, but through the wellbeing of its people. Instead of promoting economic growth alone, human development enhances human abilities: health, knowledge and a decent standard of living. It entails creating the conditions in which all people can flourish: human rights and security, environmental sustainability, gender equality, and participation in political and community life.

This human development approach guides UNDP’s work across the world and is intrinsic to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Over the years, UNDP and its partners across the world have seen challenges to putting this approach into action. Perhaps the most critical one is that of equity – is everyone benefiting equally from human development? How can we find out who is not benefiting, what are the reasons, and what can we do about them?

In Pakistan, UNDP has celebrated significant progress in sustainable human development during the past year, with many initiatives focusing on those who risk being left behind in development.

UNDP Rehabilitated provided furniture to Government Girls primary school, Zaryab, Peshawar (2)

Pakistan is a country prone to natural and human-made crises. Insecurity, economic precariousness, and serious climatic risks make it imperative to develop resilience amongst communities and institutions, and to facilitate swift recovery when disaster strikes. As peace returned to FATA in 2016, UNDP partnered with the governments of the United Kingdom, United States, Japan and the European Union to help the Government implement the FATA Sustainable Return and Rehabilitation Strategy, rebuilding institutions, infrastructure, services and livelihoods. On the ground, UNDP rehabilitated 44 schools and provided vocational training to 1,694 people; additionally, 3,500 people received business management education and 1,616 of them received start-up grants. Infrastructure development with community involvement led to 266 schemes connecting villages to main roads, providing safe drinking water and rehabilitating irrigation canals, linking them to the economic mainstream.

Cricket Tournament Bannu

Such activities were also completed in Swat, where Saudi Fund for Development support contributed to over 185,000 women and men benefitting from infrastructure schemes. In southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), UNDP engaged 95,000 youth in sports and recreation, in order to improve social cohesion and promote harmony. UNDP also enhanced opportunities for marginalized young people in Karachi, KP and Balochistan supported by USAID, Norway, Telenor and the UN Trust Fund for Human Security to build livelihoods and improve their lives amidst economic stability. In Karachi, demand-driven skills development programmes with the textile industry resulted in marketable skills for 7,300 youth out of which 4,300 successfully found job placements in the industry. In KP and Balochistan, new economic development programmes built partnerships between large companies and smaller suppliers, fostering an integrated economic landscape offering employment opportunities.


Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change poses severe risks to human development. Following a UNDP-supported analysis of climate-related expenditure, the Government included, for the first time, climate change as a national priority in its 2016–2017 budget brief. Research on best practices and conservation projects in mountainous areas, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility, led to community conservation and certification schemes progressed sustainable management practices, and Pakistan successfully secured a US$36 million grant from the Green Climate Fund for a Climate Change Adaptation project to help remote communities in Gilgit-Baltistan protect themselves against devastating glacial floods. A comprehensive report on the vulnerability of the water sector to the impacts of climate change in Pakistan was published in collaboration with the Italian government.

Human development benefiting all is grounded in good governance and democratic representation. In 2016, UNDP continued support for civil service reforms financed by the Government of Pakistan and, to take advantage of the opportunities offered by devolution to reach those in need, we supported inter-provincial coordination to strengthen the legislative, institutional and operational dimensions of governance. Elected councillors from seven village councils and three neighbourhood councils were trained on participatory development planning, budgeting and implementation. These sessions empowered local representatives to deliver basic services and make local institutions inclusive and responsive. Provincial and national parliaments also benefited from support, leading to a unanimous resolution against violence against women in KP, and amendments to rules of procedures in Balochistan. 


In Malakand, UNDP strengthened trust between communities and law enforcement with support from the Government of KP, European Union, the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, DFID-UK and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, establishing 41 model police stations and training more than 200 personnel in gender-responsive policing. Almost 1.5 million people were reached with media campaigns on their legal rights, with legal aid for more than 17,000 people including 8,185 women. Recognizing that women are often denied legal access, UNDP financed training for 43 women lawyers with a combined caseload of 214 cases – 63 percent women clients.

With funding from USAID and DFID-UK, UNDP helped people exercise their democratic rights in collaboration with the Election Commission of Pakistan. This included voter education initiatives and a mapping exercise to locate more than 68,500 polling stations online.

Data profiles of those excluded from human development are essential to understanding why they have been left behind and devising way to include them. In 2016, the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index analysed every district in the country based on the multiple dimensions of poverty: health, education and living conditions. This was included in national economic publications and provides vital information on how and where to target services.

UNDP’s work with Government to mainstream policy and institutional frameworks in support of SDG implementation led to localization at the sub-national level, with officials down to district level sensitized on SDG priorities. With the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, UNDP mapped 242 indicators onto nationally available data, identifying remaining gaps. In Punjab, a support unit was established to localize the SDGs; similar initiatives are underway across Pakistan.


While there is a long way to go before every Pakistani woman, man and child has equal access to the benefits of human development, UNDP’s work with Government and partners in civil society, the development sphere and communities laid essential groundwork for achieving the SDGs, creating a fair and representative society, a healthy environment, and promoting sustainable human development for all.

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