I thought I would share with you a bit more about what I do here at MSF in Yemen. We have approximately 8 projects, but with 3 main projects and 5 smaller projects. Our budget is in excess of 20 million Euros, and that is just our mission alone. There are 3 other MSF missions in Yemen, who have other projects that they handle with each their own budget.
Our mission has over 600 contracted staff, plus 300 incentive staff. Part of our role in finance is to ensure that all of these people get paid their salaries, which is not easy in a country that is in conflict. Many of the banks are not operating effectively, and are experiencing liquidity issues, which means that we have to be very aware of the current economic state and to be able to manage how it impacts our staff in various areas of the country. This is also true for processing payments to our suppliers.
The economic situation appears to be worsening, as banks face even greater challenges in maintaining liquidity and also in transporting cash. The healthcare system has also been deteriorating. We have been very fortunate to be able to continue helping in areas where some others have not been allowed to go. I feel so fortunate to be part of a mission where we are helping not just war wounded but also more than 4000 severely malnourished children and their families. Our team has provided thousands of surgeries and emergency room consultations. In addition to this, MSF provides support to medical facilities that are not run by our mission.
I am located in what we call “Coordination”, which means that I am living in the capital city, along with the other Country Management team, such as the Head of Mission, Logistics Coordinator, HR Coordinator, Emergency Coordinator and Medical Coordinator.
My role as the Financial Coordinator is to manage the overall finance for the mission. Besides me, we have a finance manager, and then 2-3 other finance staff in Coordination, and then each project has their own finance team. In each finance office, everyone has a desk in a very crowded and extremely busy and small office space. We have to sit all together in the same room, because we are constantly interacting with one another. It is not all serious, and sometimes we have a lot of laughs too. Everyone in finance seems to have a great sense of humour, which I really appreciate.
The standard workweek in Yemen is 48 hours, 6 days a week, compared to the standard 40 hours, 5 days a week in Canada. I have been really impressed by the finance team in the Coordination as well as the projects. All of the staff members are very dedicated, kind hearted and bright individuals. I feel very lucky to be a part of this team.