Exploring factors influencing the decisions of professional aid workers to leave or stay in the humanitarian and development NGOs operating in War-torn societies: A Lesson from South Sudan
Dr. Akim Ajieth Buny
Department of Public Administration and Policy Studies, Dr. John Garang University, Bor, South Sudan
South Sudan is the world’s newest country and is an extremely challenging environment to operate in for humanitarian and development NGOs and their staff. The objective of this study is to explore factors contributing to staff turnover and management strategies for recruiting and retaining professional aid workers within humanitarian and development NGOs in a conflict environment in South Sudan. While a number of studies have been conducted, there is no explicit consensus among academic researchers around the globe on appropriate management strategies for recruiting and retaining talented aid workers employed in organizations operating in war and conflict zones of developing countries. To address this research gap, this study explores this issue further by adopting a qualitative study research. Results of interviews with employees, organizational managers and sectoral expert practitioners identified health and safety, rampant insecurity, poor living and poor working conditions, especially poor housing and absence of basic social amenities such as electricity and running water, short-term employment contracts, tensions between local workers, regional workers and expatriates, as the major factors leading to the decisions of talented aid workers to leave the humanitarian and development sectors in South Sudan. However, on the positive note, the findings revealed that some staff, especially local staff, may be influenced to continue working in these sectors as opportunities for both financial and non-financial incentives, are increasingly available. Therefore, this study provides empirical evidence and contributes to a better understanding of factors influencing staff retention in a conflict environment, while contributing to management literature and debate.