Bringing Water to Coffee Communities in Need
In our travels through the coffee lands, we are consistently told by farmers, in communities as geographically diverse as Sumatra and Ethiopia, that access to water is a problem. Unlike here at home, where the twist of a tap brings abundant and clean water, in many coffee villages, women must walk miles each day with earthen or plastic jugs to fetch the family's water, or draw water from streams polluted by pesticides, oil or other residues of "development".
Miriam's Well is our response to this situation. Beginning in April, we are creating a revolving loan fund to build wells in coffee villages. Dean's Beans will provide no-interest loans to coffee cooperatives so that the farmers can purchase materials and assistance in building their wells. Repayment will come from coffee sales, and the repaid loan will be made available for other community projects. Money for the fund will come from sales of Miriam's Well coffee, other contributions by us and any other matching funds we can find.
We are not new to this work. In 1990, while Director of International Development at Coffee Kids, I designed a project that brought water to 1,500 coffee villagers in Kabupaten District in northern Sumatra. We supplied the materials and assisted in the planning, the villagers did the work. Besides bringing water from a mountain stream directly to the village, the project liberated village women from hours of walking daily with heavy water jugs to meet their families' needs.
When I mentioned this program to one large development organization, they said they would be happy to help, and with technical support, per diems and administrative overhead, it should cost around $40,000 to build a well. Forget it! Working directly with the farmers and local organizations, we can cut that cost down to around $8,000.
Realistically, we would like to build one well each year in a different community. Our first project will be in Ethiopia, working with the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. We will post our progress on our website, www.deansbeans.com, and send out Field Notes from time to time to our retail customers.
On a personal note, we'd like to thank you for supporting our work by buying our coffee. We promise to keep roasting great tasting coffee to make the world a better place!
An ancient, yet active grove shows the total integration of forest and coffee in Ethiopia.
It takes a lot of time and energy to raise water a quart at a time from a 90 foot deep well.
Kids miss school to wait for a trickle to fill their containers at a water site a half mile from the town.
Cooperative members in Jimma meet with Dean to organize well project.