New Global Task Force Aims to Promote Equal Salaries for Local, Foreign Aid Workers

By Ivy Mungcal 19 May 2011

Local aid workers for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees carry sacks of relief supplies for distribution of survivors of cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. Photo by: UNHCR

A new global task force has been established to help address the gap in the salaries of local and foreign aid workers and develop the organizational capacity of aid organizations working in developing countries.

The idea behind the Global Task Force for Humanitarian Work Psychology was based on the findings of a research study conducted by the Economic and Social Research Council and U.K. Department for International Development. The study found that foreign aid workers are paid on average “four times more (and sometimes much more) than a local employee doing a similar job, with local salaries pushing workers below the poverty line,” the ESRC said in a news release.

“Such disparity can have repercussions beyond just employee dissatisfaction. Our findings show a keen sense of injustice on the part of locally salaried workers, coupled with demotivation and low levels of job satisfaction raises the desire to work abroad. This, in turn, contributes to local ‘brain drain’ - the mass departure of technically skilled people from one country to another,” one of the study’s authors said.

The task force aims to highlight the importance of the organizational culture within aid groups to the success of the work these groups perform in poor countries, particularly their efforts toward capacity development. The task force will work through the United Nations, International Labor Organization, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and similar international channels to urge aid organizations to pay closer attention to how they deal with their employees, according to the ESRC.

Read more development aid news.

About the author

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Ivy Mungcal

As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.

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