Aden Ali: Celebrating 17 years of Serving the People of Sudan
Working in Sudan for more than 17 years must have been quite an experience for you, Aden Do tell us a little bit about yourself, how would you best describe yourself?
Back in the 90s, hundreds of UN employees came to Somalia to help victims of the civil war and the famine in 1992. I was fortunate enough to be part of these efforts. At the time, I joined UNICEF and worked my way up until I became the UNICEF Rep OIC in Somalia. My career shift was when I moved to UNDP with the Humanitarian Coordinator office to become Programme Coordination officer in Nairobi where I was responsible for the Somalian AID coordination Unit which helped set up and coordinate all the humanitarian work in Somalia. I also worked for DHA in New York and as emergency officer in Liberia.
I arrived in Sudan, in August 1999. My first assignment was in South Sudan in Rumbek and then I moved to Khartoum and worked with the UN Humanitarian Coordination Unit and stayed there until it became what it is now OCHA. I joined UNDP Sudan in 2008, as head of office in South Darfur and then moved again to Khartoum as Head of Field Support Unit and then later I became the Operations Manager of the UNDP Sudan Country Office.
How do I see myself? That’s a tough question. I identify myself with the humanitarian work which I do. I enjoy helping others and making sure that operational systems are in place to help humanitarian and developmental workers. In a nut shell, I see myself primality as a humanitarian worker working in the field of early recovery and disaster risk management. I also see myself as a development practitioner and I really hope to continue doing this amazing job wherever I go.
Sudan indeed is one of the few countries which has given me the opportunity to prove myself during my stay for 17 years. I stayed this long due to my feeling of being of extreme use here, a huge sense of duty.
You know, I never had time to apply to any post outside Sudan for the first ten years because I was very busy. With OCHA I was managing two loud emergencies: South Sudan and Darfur. We were very busy indeed trying to save lives and making a difference in people’s daily lives.
What do you consider to be your proudest contributions to Sudan?
There are two things which I am very proud of: The administrative management of the South Sudan office regarding travel of the staff there, the setting up of the UN mission when the peace agreement was signed and then the transfer of Lokochikio into South Sudan. I was also then associated with the big compound with OCHA in South Sudan.
As for UNDP, my largest achievement was the establishment of the Abyei Common premises in 2010 which I have built from scratch. It was the only office which provided both office and accommodation in Abyei. There are a lot of other special projects that are dear to me such as medical MOU for all staff in Darfur with UNAMID DPKO, managing the DJAM logistical operations and others.
In your opinion, what are the challenges and opportunities present in Sudan?
There are a lot of opportunities in Sudan. Most importantly you get to learn to do your job properly. Sudan is like a university for humanitarian workers who can learn how to move staff, assets etc.. within the rules and regulations of the UN. Sudan provides quite a learning experience for many. There are of course humanitarian, development and operational challenges in Sudan in addition to the existing problems of the infrastructure. Sanctions also present a difficult challenge to Sudan affecting the overall work atmosphere between the UN and Sudan.
I think we all need to think of innovative ways for delivery in Sudan which we should consider to enable lasting peace in this country.
Celebrating 50 years of UNDP’s work around the world , what are your views with regards to UNDP’s work here in Sudan?
UNDP is s very reputable development partner in Sudan. Actually UNDP is one of the oldest organizations that have entered into agreement with the Government of Sudan. It is very much respected and I am very much proud of being part of it.
The GoS trusts UNDP, donors trust UNDP and we are all viewed in high esteem. Take the Global Fund for example it is a fund managed by UNDP and it reflects that both the government and donors trust us despite the challenges on the ground . I really believe that UNDP is doing its best to serve the Sudanese people and this is what we should keep doing, raising funds for the prosperity of the Sudanese
I also hope that the issue of the sanctions which hindering the development of Sudan would be resolved. Another issue is the relief of debts. Sudan is heavily encumbered by lateral and bilateral debts. This is draining a lot of resources of this country which could have been used to develop Sudan. This is an advocacy that we in the United Nations should support as well.
What are your dreams and aspirations for Sudan?
I really have a personal affinity with this country. Sudan has been the best country which I have lived in so far. The people of Sudan, their kindness, their generosity and their good words have touched me in person. The neighbors who knock your door on Fridays to offer you breakfast Fatoor , the unknown people who offer you food without you knowing them is something remarkable and unique to Sudan. Those are things which I will treasure within my heart for long.
This is a generous country. I know a lot of people who receive free education in Sudan particularly for Somalia. They all receive free education and accommodation in the different universities in Sudan.
I wish Sudan to be a home of peace and center of peace and prosperity inshalla and I know for sure Sudanese people will share whatever they get.