Brain drain in the aid sector: Unpacking the barriers of the dual-salary system


  • Manfredi Miceli



dual-salary system, brain drain, aid sector, humanitarian sector, expatriates, aid professionals, localisation


The existence of a dual-salary system in the aid sector creates structural barriers and impediments to the development of localised and sustainable responses. During the recruitment process, professionals are not evaluated according to their previous experience and titles. Instead, their nationality weighs on their application more than their expertise.

In this paper, I have conducted qualitative research through a Key Informant Interview (KII) methodology, aiming to identify trends of thought among aid professionals, particularly those in senior leadership positions working as expatriates from Least Developed Countries (LDCs). I will firstly introduce the topic, then analyse the advantages and disadvantages of creating a fairer system that encourages the return of aid professionals to their home countries. Finally, I will compare my assumptions through KIIs to identify the trends of thought among interested parties. In the conclusion, I review these ideas, hoping to foster further research on the topic and inform global aid leadership.


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Author Biography

  • Manfredi Miceli

    Manfredi is a polyglot aid worker with extensive experience in Latin America, Northern and Central Africa, and South-East Asia. He has covered senior leadership positions in CSOs, INGOs and UN agencies in operational and program roles.


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How to Cite

“Brain drain in the aid sector: Unpacking the barriers of the dual-salary system” (2023) The Humanitarian Leader, p. Working paper 033, March, 2023. doi:10.21153/thl2023art1752.