Where We Operate
Notes about Operating in Sudan
Citizens of the developed world are accustomed to public and commercial services that function reliably most of the time.
In Sudan, such expectations inevitably will be frustrated — for a variety of reasons.
Long-term neglect of infrastructure coupled with the five-year conflict have devastated roads and transport systems, making travel unpredictable and time-consuming. Electrical power for lights and computers can be intermittent or non-existent. Phone and internet connections may be unavailable for days at a time.
Our day in the U.S. is just beginning when events on the ground in Darfur have run their course. Sudan is seven hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast, ten hours ahead of the West Coast.
Schedule is interpreted differently in Sudan. While the insufficiencies of infrastructure contribute to delays, cultural tradition favors a more interaction-oriented approach to life and work.
The phrase Sudan time reflects a pace that many Americans may secretly wish for but find inconsistent with the way we do business. In practice, getting things done requires an accommodation by all parties to the differing sensibilities about time.
Friday is the Sudanese day of rest and worship. Most government offices close at 2pm on workdays.
Dates are written in the format of Day/Month/Year instead of the US standard Month/Day/Year.
Weights and Measures
Sudan follows the metric system. Every project-related calculation of distance, weight and volume requires a conversion from the U.S. system.
In all likelihood, many more Darfuris speak (or read) English than Americans speak Arabic. There is no underestimating the opportunity for misunderstanding or the difficulty in making one’s meaning understood.
Translation – both of spoken and written communications – is time consuming and labor intensive.
During the summer of 2007, the Government of Sudan revalued the Sudanese Dinar and replaced the banknotes with the Sudanese Pound (SDP). The former conversion rate of approximately 2000 Dinar to $1 changed to 2 SDP to $1. For currency exchange within Sudan, U.S. banknotes of any denomination must be dated 2004 or later — or they will be refused.
Because of U.S. sanctions (in place since 1997), the transfer of funds to Sudan requires a license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a division of the Treasury Department. DPDO has two OFAC licenses for its programs.
Fees for wire transfers and for inter-bank transfers within Sudan are substantial.
Sudan’s is a cash economy. Giving or asking for receipts, especially for everyday purchases, in simply not a common habit – though one to which DPDO staff have become accustomed.
Every form of travel in Sudan is regulated either by official procedures or insecure conditions. For expatriate NGO staff, written travel permits from the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) are required for every flight between all destinations in Darfur.
DPDO is working with people who’ve had very limited access to necessities for a long time. Protracted conflict creates opportunities for bribery, kickbacks and other forms of funds diversion. This problem is not limited to Sudan.
DPDO has developed a detailed system of checks and balances and monthly reporting procedures to ensure that donor funds are appropriately directed to beneficiaries.
As a public non-profit, our records are available for inspection by interested parties by appointment.