Work and Travel in Sudan
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN SUDAN FOR TRAVELLERS
Sudan is one of the most impoverished nations in the world. It should come as no surprise that practically every major international aid organisation has a presence here. It’s long being a source of civil war, poverty, and death. Despite this, if you want to work in Sudan you are opening yourself up to a life-changing experience and you know that you’re making a real difference to the people there.
Although most of the country is closed off to ordinary travellers, due to safety concerns, most volunteer programmes will take up so much of your time that working travellers in Sudan won’t have time to venture far. You should also bear in mind that most volunteer organisations in Sudan are looking for travellers with specific skills. There are positions for unskilled workers who want to work in Sudan, but bear in mind that this is an impoverished nation and most unskilled work will often be carried out by local people.
You should also bear in mind that political conflict with the new nation of South Sudan (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-25427965) means that civil war could break out at any time, and has. There’s a fragile peace agreement in place, but we still recommend that you use an accredited organisation before travelling to the country for safety reasons.
You’ll find seasonal work, but there are also quite a lot of worldwide volunteering opportunities that come up. For example, the United States Embassy recently started asking for volunteer wardens to help at the embassy in Khartoum (https://sudan.usembassy.gov/volunteer_warden.html). Opportunities like this sometimes appear and are well worth pursuing.
This guide is going to introduce you to the options you have on the table if you want to work in Sudan.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR SUDAN
There are only four countries in the world that don’t require a visa to enter Sudan, and none of them are Western countries. Everyone else who wants to work in Sudan will have to apply for a visa from the Embassy of Sudan (http://www.sudanembassy.org/index.php/citizen-services/entry-visa). The chances are if you’re volunteering in Sudan you will be working with an international organisation, so they will handle all the visa requirements for you.
Like most African nations, getting a visa isn’t difficult. It just happens to be expensive and time-consuming due to the high level of bureaucracy and corruption. This goes especially for Sudan, which saw itself broken up in 2011 and has been on the edge of full-scale conflict ever since.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN SUDAN
Spring in Sudan is one of the best times for tourists to visit. There’s a limited tourist trade, but the usual jobs of working in hostels and hotels are unlikely to be on offer to foreign volunteers. Instead, the way to work in the tourism industry in spring, which is just before the rainy season, is to work through an organisation. These international organisations send English speakers as and where they’re needed.
You may be able to pick up volunteering jobs in Sudan by supporting tour groups, but these opportunities are largely few and far between.
Summer in Sudan is usually characterised by high levels of rain across most of the country. For example, in the rolling sand dunes of the south a layer of grass grows over the top. This makes volunteering activity in this part of the country extremely low. It’s also more dangerous here due to its proximity to South Sudan and it being one of the few sources of reliable water in the country.
Most summer positions are available with traditional international aid organisations, such as the United Nations (UN) and the Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/). Working travellers in Sudan can find positions helping refugees who have fled the war with South Sudan and as volunteer teachers in makeshift schools.
Skilled practitioners will find it much easier to find work in Sudan. For example, qualified doctors and nurses are always in high-demand in refugee camps, due to the almost non-existent medical care in the country.
Seasonal work in autumn can often be found on camel farms throughout the country, but the heart of camel farming is in Kassala (http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd23/10/faye23219.htm). Here you can visit the camel races, which is both popular nationally and there is a smattering of tourists who visit. Anyone with experience in working with animals can find jobs in Sudan on camel farms.
But take note that venturing out on your own like this can come with safety risks. You should do this at your own risk.
Winter work in Sudan outside of refugee camps is confined to Khartoum. The capital of Sudan hosts the European Film Festival every year. This is one of the few times of year the tourist trade is crying out for working travellers in Sudan. With an influx of tourists more English speakers are required.
Many volunteers in Sudan have managed to find work in Khartoum at this time of year.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN SUDAN
Foreigners in Sudan are considered to be a positive influence because the majority of foreign workers are working in refugee camps. Take note that the lack of work in the country means taking on unskilled work away from international organisations could make you a target. You could be perceived as taking work away from a local.
However, the majority of local people will see you more as a curiosity as few Westerners are found in this part of the world.