Sector Assistance Program Evaluation for the Social Sectors in Pakistan

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Evaluation Document | 31 July 2005
This report evaluates 20 years (1985-2004) of Asian Development Bank (ADB) support to social sector development in Pakistan.

The performance of the social sectors is poor and Pakistan's social indicators lag those of comparator countries. Although the Government has expressed optimism that most of the millennium development goals (MDGs) are potentially achievable, this will require a turnaround from negative performance in the 1990s or much faster progress than has been achieved in the past.

Summary of findings

In keeping with overall sector performance, and relative to the performance of operations in most other sectors in the country, the performance of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) social sector operations in Pakistan has been poor. According to the study, only 8% of 24 social sector projects were successful with 58% judged as partly successful and the balance of 33% unsuccessful.

Although the performance of more recently approved projects is better (based in part on project completion report ratings where postevaluation report ratings are not available), the level of performance is not satisfactory, particularly in light of ADB's commitment to manage for development results. ADB finds itself facing a dilemma-on the one hand, it is committed to helping its clients achieve the MDGs and on the other, to allocating resources in a way that will maximize the achievement of development results. Clearly a new strategy is needed for social sector operations in Pakistan.


  • ADB should review its strategy for social sector operations in Pakistan and produce an action plan to improve the performance of its program.
  • As part of the strategy review, decisions should ensure critical mass and focus. Depending upon resource availability (and in particular the availability of sector specialists to support the program), this may imply fewer sectors and a greater degree of focus within sectors.
  • Until the context improves, there should be somewhat less emphasis on lending and more on policy dialogue; capacity development; community outreach; implementation support; and economic, sector, and thematic work. Within this, an important challenge is to improve the quantity, quality, and timeliness of data on social sector performance.
  • A dedicated social sector operations support unit should be established in the Pakistan Resident Mission for the four provincial devolved social services programs and to engage with the Government on social sector policy issues on a more regular basis.
  • The program of social sector operations in Pakistan must find ways to further develop private provision and private funding of basic social services. As part of this, consideration should be given to extending private sector operations to the social sectors in Pakistan.
  • A more rigorous consideration of the impact of corruption and the means for addressing it is required on social sector strategies and projects.