Palomo at the metal lathe

Palomo at the metal lathe

ATDER-BL - Present Structure

34 Members & Employees

The Director

  • Administration as well as engineering design & supervision – 1 person

Matagalpa Office:

  • Administration, public relations, purchasing & accounting – 4 people

El Cuá Office, Machine Shop and Field Operations:

  • Design & supervising engineer – 1 person
  • Mechanical Shop - machinists, welders & other – 5 people
  • Electric Service Administration – 4 people
  • Electric Service Power Line Team – 3 people
  • El Bote Power Plant Operators – 2 people
  • Power Line Construction Team – 9 people
  • Hydro Power & Other Projects Construction Team - 5 people (At the height of construction of the El Bote project 30 people were employed)


The Organization

ATDER-BL is a Nicaraguan NGO. Our projects have taken us into many regions of the country but our main focus has been the municipalities of El Cuá and San José de Bocay in the department of Jinotega where we have built primarily drinking water systems, small-scale hydroelectric plants and transmissions lines for rural electrification. Our interest is while building small economies and strengthening community through participatory projects such as those that bring clean water and light and power to villages and towns, we also provide opportunities for individuals to build capacity and skills. Thereby individuals may continue working at higher capacities in the community and/or in our organization or they may be able to work for other organizations or begin to work successfully for themselves. In the last twenty years or more a large number of individuals have been trained while working for ATDER-BL and have moved on to become productive locally or elsewhere in Nicaragua. The list includes, electricians, lines workers, surveyors, engineers, accountants, administrators, masons, pipe layers, plant operators, municipal advisors, environmentalists, welders, and machinists.

Recently ATDER-BL completed the 930 kW, El Bote hydropower project and we have built 65 km (40 miles) of transmission lines. The region is now connected to the national grid and we have enough power to meet all demand and the surplus power is presently being exported or sold to the national grid. ATDER-BL has the legal concession to distribute electricity to the region and has formed an electrical company to carry out this task.


Community Contributions

ATDER-BL asks that communities who will benefit from clean drinking water or electrical power projects to provide the required volunteer manual labour to complete their project. In this way they become owners of the project both because they have built it and because they will receive benefit from it. We consider this as good development practice for it builds skills in individuals and strengthens the organizational abilities and the sense of unity of a community. Although the work of construction and supervision becomes more difficult for the volunteer teams are often inexperienced.


Office Locations

Our principal or formal office is two to three hours north of Managua in the city of Matagalpa and the field office is a further three hours to the north in the town of El Cuá.

Gilda and Fredy, Electric Service Administration

Gilda and Fredy, Electric Service Administration

Aleyda Quintero, our office manager, and a team of three women run the office in Matagalpa. This office is responsible for accounting, payroll, purchasing, project logistics, and general administration. The Matagalpa office also promotes the organization and solicits project sponsorship and grant money.

The field office and mechanical shop are located in El Cuá, a town of 4,000. The field office is the center of operations for design and construction of drinking water systems, hydropower plants, transmission lines and other projects. This is the office that also houses the electrical company administration and supplies. The ATDER-BL electrical company administers and maintains the distribution of electricity throughout the region and oversees the metering and billing of customers.

The mechanical shop manufactures turbines, grillage, sluice gates etc., and provides repair services for small motors and vehicles. American volunteers trained the original machinists over fifteen years ago.


Members and Employees

We have 34 members and employees including engineers, designers, machinists, lines workers, conservationalists, administrators and builders. The following are some examples of our working members and their role in the ATDER-BL organization.

Palomo is the head of mechanical shop and began his career as an apprentice machinist ten years ago. The shop runs as its own business with five employees. Revenues are used for salaries and overhead.

The director, Rebecca Leaf, has several roles in the organization; administrator, project manager and mechanical engineer. Concurrent with accomplishing her responsibilities as head administrator, she designs projects and supervises construction. Soon after graduating from MIT she moved to Nicaragua, and has made this country her home since 1984. All members and employees of the organization except the director are Nicaraguan.

Lisandro is our experienced ¨Maestro de Obres¨ or construction leader and has mastered the ability to build hydro dams and powerhouses using community labour.

Felix Estrada has been our Maestro de Obres or construction leader for water pipelines for over ten years. Felix is a local of the area who has been trained by ATDER-BL to be a surveyor and has led many teams of volunteers in digging trenches and laying pipe for hydropower plants and drinking water systems.

Felix Rosales is a qualified Nicaraguan design engineer from UNI in Managua. As a student he was the president of the university student body. He now lives in El Cuá. As an ATDER-BL engineer he works designing hydro projects, completing engineering surveys, and consults for those who want small generating systems.

To operate the El Bote plant and synchronize operations for local and grid power generation, two ATDER-BL power plant operators, Roberto and Mario, live and work full time at the site. They have received extensive training and our now able to run the plant independently.


Lisandro, construction leader

Lisandro, construction leader