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Think beyond your coffee cup

Overview

Published: 08/21/2015

by Marcus Johnson

More information is available at www.waterwisecoffee.com.

Informed coffee lovers who are thinking beyond their cups about the lives of the people who farm and process the beans, will often insist on sustainable and fair trade coffee. This movement has helped to improve the livelihood of coffee farmers in developing countries. However, some populations are facing challenges due to coffee production and they need help.

For example, in certain areas of the world, the wet milling process of extracting beans from the coffee cherries produces organic waste that can pollute local water supplies, affecting people and livestock who use the waterways.

Aschameyekesh Bogale, an Ethiopian coffee farmer and mother of four, says she knows this first hand. Faced with polluted water from her local river for drinking and basic household chores, she and her two young daughters needed to make long trips to fetch piped water. Some industry members are taking the lead to make a difference however.

An initiative called Water Wise Coffee is a one-of-a-kind non-profit program launched and supported by Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee. Already it is improving the lives of Bogale and others by helping mill owners filter water naturally, using sustainable vetiver grass. The program is administered by TechnoServe, a not-for-profit organization that develops business solutions to address global poverty.

In just two years, independent test results have shown dramatic improvement in both the water quality and the living conditions for the people who depend on these rivers for their water supply.

“Since the grass was planted, I use the river for washing again,” Bogale points out in a documentary film. “It has stopped the pollution.”

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