The Colombia Project: News from The Chain Collaborative

Learn about the Chain Collaborative and How Your Coffee Purchases Fund Global Water Projects 

Wastewater runoff from coffee farms poses the danger of land and freshwater contamination to neighboring farms in LaPlata, Huila in Colombia. Most coffee-producing farmers in the region cannot afford to purchase wastewater treatment systems to purify the runoff. The Well Coffeehouse learned of the farmers‘ plight and partnered with the Chain Collaborative to offer a solution. 

What Is The Chain Collaborative? 

The Chain Collaborative, one of our trusted water project partners, works with change leaders in coffee-growing regions around the globe to help drive grassroots sustainability efforts. These efforts center around preserving natural areas impacted by coffee farming operations.  Local leaders work to improve socioeconomic conditions for the coffee farmers by building equitable and sustainable communities and developing farming best practices to benefit their collectives. 

How The Well Coffeehouse Became Involved 

As you may know, one of The Well‘s cornerstone values is turning our profits into hope, both locally and globally, by providing sustainable solutions to poverty, especially in coffee-growing regions around the world.  

In October 2020, we donated $5,500 to the Chain Collaborative on behalf of La Asociación de Productores de Café de Alta Calidad del Suroccidente del Huila (OCCICAFE) in Huila, Colombia.  OCCICAFE is a cooperative association of 172 small coffee producers that seeks to improve socioeconomic conditions for its members. 

We are proud to announce that our $5,500 donation has been used to implement wastewater treatment systems on four coffee farms in the municipality of La Plata, Huila in Colombia.  

Only the wealthiest producers can afford wastewater systems like these. These systems prevent the contamination of wastewater runoff into nearby farms or into other freshwater systems, enabling these coffee producers to receive environmental practices certification, (like Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance), which will increase their income. 

The funds The Well Coffeehouse raised from the sales of our Huila Colombia coffee, along with co-donations from OCCICAFE and Caravela, covered the costs for all phases of the project which included: 

  • Initial feasibility studies at each farm 
  • The construction and installation of the four anaerobic wastewater treatment systems 
  • Training for the farmers in how to monitor, maintain and repair the systems 

 

Project Phases 

Sustainable projects of this type are carried out in phases to ensure long-term success. 

Phase 1: Feasibility Studies 

Technicians from OCCICAFE visited each farm to determine the feasibility of installing the wastewater treatment systems. They also determined which system would work best for each site and then purchased these systems for each farm. 

Phase 2: Installation of the Four Treatment Systems 

The technician from OCCICAFE and the producers installed the wastewater treatment systems at each of the four farms in April 2021 to purify the water used to wash the coffee. 

After installing each system, the technician trained the producers and their families in how to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot the equipment.  Following the training, the technicians set up the pipework to the final filter section of each system. 

They supervised the producers as they prepared the mixtures to activate the chemical reactions that purify the water, ensuring that the producers understood the process. 

Phase 3: Ongoing Training and Followup 

The OCCICAFE technician visited each farm again in May to inspect the systems and offer ongoing support to the producers. All four systems were functioning properly.  

OCCICAFE will continue to follow up with the four producers and offer support to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project. 

 

Beneficiary Testimonials 

These efforts benefit many people — the farmers who receive the equipment, as well as neighboring farmers, along with the whole community. Below you can see the impact on the four main beneficiaries of this project: 

Jesus Herlandy Quintero 

OCCICAFE successfully installed an anaerobic wastewater treatment SMTA 1100 on Jesus' farm on April 15.. 

“I am very happy and grateful to OCCICAFE for having given me these filters because with this, I no longer contaminate freshwater sources and neighbors' land. I am very grateful for this. Thank you so much for everything.” 

- Jesus Herlandy Quintero, El Progreso Farm in Monserrate, La Plata, Huila 

 

Luisa Fernanda Paiva 

OCCICAFE successfully installed the anaerobic wastewater treatment SMTA 1100 on Luisa's farm on April 12. 

“Leaving behind [my last wastewater treatment tank], the coffee water no longer contaminates my neighbors' land. For that, I am very grateful to OCCICAFE for having me in mind and for giving me this wastewater treatment system. It allows me to stop contaminating the freshwater sources that are beneficial to all human beings. Thank you very much.”  

- Luisa Fernanda Paiva, La Esperanza Farm in San Francisco, La Plata, Huila

 

 

Raúl Alvey Rojas 

OCCICAFE successfully installed the anaerobic wastewater treatment SMTA 1700 on Raul's farm on April 14th.  

“Thank you OCCICAFE, Caravela, and Well Coffeehouse for having donated this service that is useful for ensuring the water leaves clean and doesn't cause contamination. Not contaminating is important because people in this zone are aware of contamination and I don't want to contaminate neighbors' land. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.” 

- Raúl Alvey Rojas, El Naranjo Farm in Bella Vista, La Plata, Huila 

 

Martina Finscue Guianas 

OCCICAFE successfully installed the anaerobic wastewater treatment SMTA 800 on Martina's farm on April 7th.  

“Thank you to OCCICAFE for the tanks that you have given because with them, I no longer contaminate my neighbor's or anyone else's land.”  

- Martina Finscue Guianas, Los Naranjos, La Plata, Huila 

 

You Make an Impact Every Day 

When you purchase coffee either online or at any of our locations, you support sustainable projects like this around the world.  

We enjoy sharing these reports with you. Read more about our involvement in global water projects at wellcoffeehouse.com/love-people 

The everyday choices you make can improve the lives of people half a world away. What an amazing feeling!  

And you make it all possible.