The Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan occupies an area of 27,220 kmē (10,507 sq miles). It has a population estimated at 4 million in 2000.This is about 2% of the population of Pakistan and only around 3% of the FATA population reside in established townships.

The area has been administered differently from other parts of Pakistan since the establishment of that country in 1947. The tribal areas were granted universal adult franchise in 1997 but political parties are still outlawed there. Earlier, only a few thousand tribal elders were allowed the right to vote and contest elections to the parliament.

  • The literacy rate is 17% compared with 53% for Pakistan as a whole.
  • There are over 8,000 people for each doctor in the area compared with 1,500 in all of the country.

These low literacy rates and the lack of development funds combined with the fallout of instability in neighbouring Afghanistan have held this area back in terms of socio-economic development compared to the rest of Pakistan.

Frequent crop failures because of low rainfall, together with limited employment opportunities, have a negative effect on the living conditions of poor rural people in the area.

Villages are small and remote, infrastructure is inadequate and agriculture is mainly at subsistence level. Many local men have migrated elsewhere in search of work, leaving women with a heavier workload. Illiteracy is widespread, particularly among women and girls.

The situation in the FATA makes it very difficult for non-government aid organisations to operate. This requires local involvement in any aid project. Local knowledge and contact is vital for any development project.

For more information on the region please visit the links page.