Association of Rural Development Workers – Benjamin Linder (ATDER-BL)

Residents of the northern highlands of Nicaragua were typically overlooked by modern infrastructure development. The Association of Rural Development Workers has changed this, securing access to electricity and clean drinking water for local people for the first time. Today the association is also generating enough profits from hydro power to fund US$300,000-worth of development in the region.

The Association of Rural Development Workers was founded when American engineer Benjamin Linder moved to Nicaragua in 1985 to help communities construct the first hydro project in the San Jose de Bocay region. Benjamin’s murder by Contra rebels sparked an uprising both locally and internationally, leading not only to the setting up of the association but also a renewed focus on development in the region.

Lifting of the electricity grid posts

The association has had great success in mobilizing residents within the region, including women, to participate in and take ownership of projects. Alongside a number of community scale micro-hydro projects that have provided electricity in the region for the first time, the El Bote Small Hydro project located between El Cuá and San José de Bocay supplies enough power to meet present demand in the region with significant surplus to sell or export to the national grid at the contract price of 6.8 cents per kWh. In three years, there will be an additional US $300,000 of revenue available that will be re-invested in further development projects for the region.

Before the construction of this plant, many generations of families had never had access to electricity. The plant has been the driving force behind the thriving economy of El Cua today. Moreover, drinking water systems that capitalize on pristine mountain water resources tapped into for the hydro-electricity plant has given families in the region access to clean drinking water. Thirteen separate installations have been made in towns within the region to date. Prior to this source, families predominantly relied on the contaminated Bocay river for drinking water, cooking and household needs.

“This project addressed basic needs for water and energy with a lot of local volunteer labour and some local democratic supervision based on local public ownership.”

– Evaluator David Sogge

Would you like to learn more about this initiative? Please contact us.

Or visit atder-bl.org/

Transformative Cities’ Atlas of Utopias is being serialized on the P2P Foundation Blog. Go to TransformativeCities.org for updates.

1 Comment El Cuá, Nicaragua: Community-owned hydropower transforms rural economy

  1. Douglas Jack

    As someone who has spent years canoeing & living on dammed lakes/rivers, I’m familiar with the ecological devastation to biosphere productivity, fish, amphibian, wildlife, sylvaculture etc. Mechanical-engineering ‘exogenous’ (Latin ‘other-generated’) minds will be surprised at how all humanity’s worldiwde ‘indigenous’ (L ‘self-generating’) ancestors harvested 100 times more food, materials, energy & water-cycle from 3-dimensional complex Polyculture orchards & living water-sheds than from 2-D mechanically engineered dammed & ‘agriculture’ (L ‘ager’ = ‘field’) reduced areas. While Central-America’s indigenous ancestors are few in number & settlers have the upper hand in imposing the failure we brought from our economic & ecological failure in Europe, the science of what we are doing requires close examination.

    Abundant POLYCULTURE-ORCHARD biosphere based food growing. indigenous ‘Sylvalization’ (Latin ‘sylva’ = ‘tree’) or Polyculture orchard food production is the foundation of human economy, ecology for all species & a positive foundation for human contribution. Dams destroy the most productive tree, plant, riparian, wildlife & human river-based growing zones. Its time after 500 years of destruction that we work with 1st Nations to take inventory.

    POLYCULTURE ORCHARDS Studies of the worldwide indigenous 3-D Polyculture Orchard ‘Sylvalizations’ going back beyond the 7000 year threshold of ‘civilizations’. First Nations cultivated Polyculture Orchards were massive harvesters at 92 – 98% photosynthesis of solar energy converted into food, materials, energy & water-cycle. Its considered now that; polyculture (agro-forestry, forest-gardens etc) is 100 times (10,000%) more productive than 2-D ‘agriculture’ (Latin ‘ager’ = ‘field’). Considering the importance of food production as the foundation for all human economy, its absolutely important that; farmers, agri-business corporations, universities, government policies & all aligned food systems begin to align with & benefit from the abundance of the tree-based biosphere yet their industry programmed disbelief leaves them incapable of even looking at the data. If Europeans ‘immigrate’ instead of continuing to ‘invade’, we can still learn how to live abundantly in all regards through the auspices of First Nations & remaining ‘indigenous’ peoples worldwide. We have quite a clean-up not only of the environment but of our colonized minds & economy. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/1-indigenous-welcome-orchard-food-production-efficiencies
    SYLVALIZATION CALCULATIONS Agriculture only photosynthesizes 2 – 8% of solar energy reflecting over 90% back into the troposphere where it pushes winds from the continent to the sea. At the Sahara/Sahel Latitudes of less than 30 degrees north, the sun is so hot it burns 2-D agriculture. Tree roots descend 10s of metres as deep as the canopy into the earth’s substrate where they mine minerals, pump water & develop nutrient extensive colonies. Continental cold spots created through complete photosynthesis cause warm moist ocean winds to be drawn inland (warm to cold) where 60% of moisture transfer is through condensation of warm moisture laden wind onto trillions of square kilometres of fractal leaf & bark surfaces. Only 40% of water is transferred as rain/snow. ‘Agriculture’ 2-8% photosynthesis reflects 95% of solar energy, which pushes winds from the continent towards the sea causing permanent desert. Sahara, Gobi, Atacama etc. deserts are all created by human agriculture including exploitation of animals such as domesticated goats, sheep, cattle, pigs etc. Indigenous peoples worldwide did not exploit domestic animals but lived in collaboration with these other tree & biosphere tending specialists. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/1-polyculture-orchards
    https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/1-how-to-grow-your-own-raw-vegan-food-garden

    Given 1st Nation sovereignty over these lands & indeed all of Central America & the inherent ‘indigenous’ (Latin ‘self-generating’) DIALECTIC-RIGHTS to COUNCIL-PROCESS by all. Given the amount of mainstream-media MSM disinformation all Canadians are unfortunately subject to, without access to the perspective of all stakeholders including traditional Councils Thereby immediately Council Process involving the both-sided, equal-time, recorded & published dialogues of all parties & positions should be held. MSM must be required by government to publish said dialogues or be faced with losing their publishing & media licences. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/structure/both-sides-now-equal-time-recorded-dialogues First Nation traditionalists are not against development, but are insisting on behalf of all humanity that; the development must be biosphere-based or in harmony with natural-law. There are a host of more ecologically-economic lucrative technologies & pathways for development in harmony with human-rights & the environment, which unfortunately the oligarchs who control Canadian & US media have not allowed formal public dialogue & ‘debate’ (French ‘de’ = ‘undo’ + ‘bate’ = ‘the-fight’).

    WHOLE SOCIETY ENERGY MANAGEMENT, Every city as clean-energy exporters In the built urban environment are concentrations of renewable energy sources which are presently causing damage to human health, buildings & the environment. Diverse renewables representing both combustible & electric sources can be fed into gas or electric grids eliminating the need for storage are more available at less cost than foreign or rural extractive sources.

    GETTING OUR SHIT TOGETHER
    1st capturing the methane, ethanol & fertilizer available from massive volumes of fecal, urine & plant (vegetable/fruit) refuse can supply 25% of every population’s energy needs. Fecal, urine & plant material are the smell & health hazard in sewage & garbage, which keep waters & materials from reuse, recycling. Such natural gas capture can provide all internal combustion transport needs. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/5-bio-digestion-toilet

    2nd capturing wind on BUILDING-WIND-SHEAR SURFACES with linear-axis helical wind blades. Shear winds concentrate 12-15 times ambient force presently causing extensive building damage as well as making street spaces uninhabitable. Shear winds turbines can provide 20% of urban electric energy needs.
    3rd capturing KINETIC NON-DAMMED RIVER & TIDE WATER-FLOW concentrations on bridge pylons. Bridge pylons can hold both kinetic linear-axis helical water turbines below & wind turbines above the water line. Pylon mounted turbines can deliver 20% of urban electric energy needs. Flow concentrations cause damage to fish, crustacean, bird river travel as well as erosion to sediments.

    COMPLEMENTARY-ENERGY
    4th capturing solar energy through passive windows, photo-voltaic panels & solar-hot-water-heating mounted on the south side of buildings with porch overhangs to let in winter sun & keep out summer sun. Uncaptured solar energy causes billions of dollars of damage to buildings. Solar can provide 20% of urban heating, cooling & electric energy needs. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/9-Complementary-energy not only can prevent a trillion dollars loss per year of damaging energy concentrations to our infrastructure, but as well capture this same trillion dollars in sustainable renewable energy use. With these 4 & other sources, each city can be exporters of renewable energy for permanent operating income.

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