What are the experiences and approaches of external agencies in relation to support for retention allowances for health and education professionals, including measures for their sustainability or appropriate exit strategies?
This rapid review looks at available literature on the experiences and approaches of external agencies in relation to support for retention allowances for health and education professionals in countries which risk losing them.
Retention allowances can come in the form of separate payments or salary top-ups. Donors have generally been reluctant to support retention allowances because they feel salaries are a government responsibility and because of concerns over the sustainability of such support. However, in a number of cases, the scale of the crisis has been so great that they have stepped in to provide support. It is generally agreed that this support cannot be ongoing and that measures should be put in place to replace external financing with additional domestic revenues.
Yet, often, this support has had to remain in place longer than originally planned as the government has been unable to take responsibility for the additional costs. Support is often provided by a variety of donors, and may come in the form of budget support for the government. Schemes have tended to focus on financial incentives and allowances, despite evidence indicating that a balanced package of measures is better for retaining staff.
Cases where there has been donor support for retention allowances include Zimbabwe, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Zambia.
Rohwerder, B. External support for retention allowances (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1284). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2015) 11 pp.