Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2010

The U.S. Aid "Surge" to Pakistan: Repeating a Failed Experiment? Lessons for U.S. Policymakers from the World Bank's Social-Sector Lending in the 1990s

Nancy Birdsall, Molly Kinder

May 2010

Center for Global Development


During the 1990s, the World Bank and several donor partners provided a "surge" in external aid to support Pakistan's social sectors. Despite the millions of donor dollars spent, the program failed. Poverty was higher in Pakistan in 2004 than it was a decade earlier when the antipoverty program began. This working paper re-releases a CGD analysis of the World Bank's program, which was prepared in 2005 by CGD researchers Nancy Birdsall, Milan Vaishnav, and Adeel Malik. The analysis reports the many problems donors faced while working with Pakistan's government to improve health and education outcomes. A new preface by Nancy Birdsall and Molly Kinder identifies the key lessons from this massive donor experiment that are relevant today, as the United States and other donors prepare to increase their assistance to Pakistan to historic levels.