Alf V. Adeler, head engineer of the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate’s International Sector, has spent more than seven years working in Timor-Leste. Norway has collaborated with Timor-Leste on power sector management for almost a decade under Adeler’s supervision. The Royal Norwegian Embassy congratulates Adeler upon receiving the distinction, and presents a short interview conducted on the occasion.
In December 2001 the Timorese Prime Minister at the time, Mr. Mari Alkatiri, requested Norwegian assistance within the power sector. Norway derives more than 99 % of its electricity from hydropower, a sustainable and cheap source of energy. Adeler remembers his engagement in Timor-Leste with fondness and describes the country as incredibly beautiful.
During the first collaborative period in 2003-2009 feasibility studies for one large and several smaller hydropower projects were conducted, several hydrological gauging stations were constructed, and people received training in hydropower and hydrology. A mini hydropower plant was built in Gariuai as a pilot training project and inaugurated in 2008.
Today it can provide around 5000 Timorese households with electricity. Adeler enthusiastically explains how the hydropower plant was constructed: ‘The plant was built without the use of machines, and only by Timorese. We collaborated with the local authorities on devising a revolving workforce comprised of men and women from eight surrounding villages with constrained relations. The workers were paid a fair salary and received a hearty meal every day. So the construction of the hydropower plant contributed to the process of creating peace and stability in the region in addition to reducing poverty and providing households with electricity’.
The collaboration between the two countries was deemed successful, and the institutional cooperation on strengthening Timor-Leste’s water resources and power sector will continue until 2014.
During this period a Hydropower Master Plan for Timor-Leste will be developed, and plans to build two new hydropower plants exist. A reliable source of power is vital for the economical development of a country and the well-being of its inhabitants.
Hydrology will continue to play a central part in Timor-Leste’s abilities to allocate and manage water for drinking, irrigation, hydropower, industry and so on. Adeler hopes Timor-Leste will continue to develop hydropower as a sustainable source of energy for the future. ‘Interest in, and knowledge about, hydropower is rising in the region. The presence of Norway as a neutral counsellor, can have a stabilising effect on the energy sector. Timor-Leste is rich in natural resources and has the potential of becoming a good country to live in if these are managed well’ he states.
The Royal Norwegian Order of Merit was founded by King Olav V in 1985. It is conferred on foreign and Norwegian nationals as a reward for their outstanding service in the interest of Norway. Adeler was delighted to be conferred the Order, but has at the time of writing yet to receive the distinction.
‘When Ambassador Homme called with the good news I was actually riding the tram in Oslo. The next day I went to Tanzania, where I am currently working with hydropower management, so there has been no time,’ he explains. Remarkably, there is also another Adeler working in Tanzania: his daughter Kristin. Kristin found a newly born baby boy abandoned on a Tanzanian beach in 1996, an experience that spurred her engagement with children’s care and resulted in the development of an orphanage in Bagamoyo, a small town north of Dar es Salaam. The flair for humanitarian work obviously runs in the Adeler-family.