HelpAge International works with partner Merlin International in Pakistan to help older people recover from the impact of the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir.



(c) Shahzado Khaskheli/HelpAge International

Atta used credit to transform his livelihood in Pakistan

Why we work in Pakistan?

Millions of older people in Pakistan live in poverty. Most Pakistanis rely on agriculture and informal work throughout their lives. This leaves very few with pensions or a reliable income when they reach older age, leaving them dependent on their families who often struggle to provide for them. Older people who have disabilities, live alone, care for children or are widowed are particularly vulnerable to financial insecurity.

Health issues are prominent in Pakistan too, and non-communicable diseases pose a particularly problem because they are not prioritised in health services. Staff are often inadequately equipped to provide care – they do not understand older people’s health issues, and there are no geriatric specialists who can input.

Pakistan is prone to natural disasters, with the country facing floods, earthquakes and drought in recent years. During these emergencies, older people are particularly at risk and need assistance that is targeted to their specific needs.

Supporting livelihoods and advocating for social protection

We advocate for better inclusion of older people in social protection policies and programmes in Pakistan, and encourage the country’s financial sector to better support older women and men’s livelihoods.

We give older people access to small amounts of money at low interest rates to help them develop small businesses, as well as provide older women and men with training and guidance on how to base their enterprise out of their home. This helps to increase their income and ensure they and their families have food on their plates.

Campaigning on older people’s rights

In collaboration with civil society, media, academia and older people’s organisations, we campaign on the protection and promotion of older people’s rights in Pakistan. This has led to three of the country’s four provinces to enact new laws on older people, and we expect the final province of Punjab to join the others soon.

To build local advocacy, we work with over 200 older people’s associations across Pakistan to help them campaign on issues that matter to them and to develop links with policy makers.

HelpAge International is one of the founding members of the Ageing and Disability Task Force, a network of 11 like-minded national and international organisations advocating for inclusion of older people and persons with disabilities in humanitarian responses and disaster risk reduction activities.

Respond to humanitarian emergencies and boosting community resilience

We respond to emergencies with age-friendly support. We provide food and toiletries, ensure older people have adequate shelter, and provide cash to older people to use on their most urgent needs.

We also help communities prepare for disasters by getting effective plans in place. Drills and simulations put these plans into practice, ensuring older people know how to respond when there is an emergency.

From farmer to pattron-maker


(c) Waqas Qureshi/HelpAge International

Atta is ready to sell the pattron he made

Sixty-year-old Atta Muhammad Birohi lives in Abdul Hakeem Birohi, a small village in Pakistan’s Sindh province.
He has been a farmer all his life, but the income is not enough to support his wife and children. Floods in 2010 and 2012 made matters worse as the deluge left Atta’s fertile land barren.
He had to look for other ways to make a living, and when he visited a friend in a neighbouring village, Atta was introduced to making roof beds called pattrons.
But he had no savings to start this enterprise – the only option was to take high-interest credit. Even then, he didn’t have enough to buy the raw materials in bulk, which squeezed his profit margins.
When Atta heard HelpAge International was offering microcredit, he developed a business plan and submitted it to us. Impressed with his plans, we gave him 15,000 Pakistani rupees (US$135).
He purchased bushes, ropes and other raw materials in bulk and started making pattrons at home. Together with his wife, they could make six pattron every day with a profit of 250 Pakistani rupees for each one. He paid back the microcredit on time and bought a goat to support his income.
“I have good income now and I am very happy to have my own business. I am leading my family happily and do not stress about household expenses,” he said.
“I hope I’ll have enough savings in future days to overcome the difficult times of life with ease.”
Our network members
  • Pakistan Medico International

Our donors

  • Big Lottery Fund
  • Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • ECHO
  • German Foreign Ministry (AA)
  • UK Department for International Development
  • Age International
  • HelpAge Deutschland