Just what does Post-Conflict mean? For me, it sometimes looks and feels much more like international development as there isn’t the same sense of urgency you might find in conflict zones. The ‘just do it’ of an emergency is replaced by budget constraints and planning and proper paperwork. The problems and contextual issues are no longer so obvious and I have to go looking to find them.
Sometimes it also feels a bit more like a job and I feel a bit less like a humanitarian in action. I can spend entire days sorting out overtime hours or writing monthly reports or counting pills and this certainly doesn’t feel like savings lives or alleviating suffering, as in the MSF mandate. It is even possible to go days without leaving the compound or actually seeing any patients or feeling a sense of urgency in what we do.
However, it is all so relevant. Without MSF, the health care in the area would be very limited. No surgery. No patient transfers. No blood transfusions. No free medicine. No testing. No treatment. And the population really has nothing. They survive in grass huts on subsistence agriculture. The mosquito net distributed by MSF is one of very few possessions. So many more people would die if MSF was not working here. Post-conflict medical support is critical to ease the continued vulnerability of the population, to enhance their productivity and facilitate the rebuilding process.
Post-conflict work seems to find its way into the gray zone between international development and humanitarian relief work. It may not catch as many headlines but it is a big part of MSF and plays a vital and often forget role in international assistance. It is also what I am experiencing for the first time here in Shamwana.