I like to get academic about global health ethics and development commentary. But today I was reading about Myanmar and considering the (visceral) value of relief. I was imagining what it would be like to be in a situation where your house was destroyed, you had no food or water, and you had been separated from your family and friends. I quickly realized this is not a situation easily imagined by a naive and sheltered person like me.
I’ve always been in the “development” camp, described by others as a person who likes due process and community-driven initiatives. Lately, I am taken with relief because it seems to serve indisputable needs. Of course, the ethics of relief operations must still be deeply considered and the practice of relief must be cautious, well-planned and coordinated. It must take into consideration gender and power differentials, local strengths and assets, resources, culture, politics and economics. But the visceral response is much simpler: help comes to serve those in direct, indisputable need from natural disaster or conflict. To get right down to it, I think if I was in a desperate situation, I’d want aid agencies to come to the rescue of my family. I’m not sure this is too simple a reason to choose relief engagement over a career in development, but there is something less concerning in relief work?