Environment as a Basis for Development Case Studies Overview of the Case Study/Project and Context (include objectives

of the project, partnerships) Max 300 words In Nicaragua, Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and TechnoServe (TNS) have formed a consortium to implement a five-year USAID-funded project known as “ACORDAR” (Alliance to Create Rural Development Opportunities through Agrobusiness). While environmental protection is not an explicit objective of the project, achieving specific environment and conservation targets is integral to the work being carried out. Within the ACORDAR consortium, LWR focuses on providing technical assistance to 1,439 rural farm families whose livelihood consists of the small-scale production of coffee. LWR carries out its work through two Nicaraguan cooperatives representing small and medium scale coffee producers – CECOCAFEN and SOPPEXCCA, as well as with the technical and marketing support organization CAFENICA. Although the main objective is to increase the family income of these farmers through the strengthening of their production and marketing capacity, environmental protection plays a crucial role in all activities. An important component of this protection has been the introduction of improved, environmentally-sound wet mill processors at the farm level. Wet-mill processing, the stage in which the newly harvested coffee bean is fermented and the red, cherry-like pulp is extracted, has traditionally been the source for extreme environmental contamination, using large quantities of water and producing highly acidic water runoff and pulp residue that flows or is dumped into nearby streams. In order to address this issue, LWR and its partners have introduced infrastructure improvements to existing wet mills being used by targeted farmers. Improvements are catered to the specific needs of each farmer and include relatively low-cost activities (the average project investment per wet mill improvement is around $400, with farmers contributing labor and other resources) such as the introduction of calibrated de-pulping machinery, the construction of cement fermentation tanks and washing channels, and the addition of small catchment pools for the treatment of contaminated water runoff through a three-phase filtering process. In some cases, available resources are pooled to construct communal wet mill processors used by a number of families. Farmers are also trained in the preparation and use of the coffee pulp as a source of organic fertilizer for the coffee plantations. Results of these small-scale improvements to the wet mill processors have been significant. Studies and evaluations of the improved wet mills have pointed to an 86.6% reduction in the amount of water required for processing; Where before 1,200 liters of water were used to process 100 pounds of parchment coffee, it is estimated that those wet mills that have been improved by the project (most significantly due to the introduction of washing channels) are now using only 160 liters per hundredweight. The use of the coffee pulp as organic fertilizer has also contributed to a marked improvement in the environment, since it is no longer left to leach its acidic content into the soil or dumped directly into nearby streams and rivers. During the first phase of the ACORDAR project (Sept. 2007 – Mar. 2010), LWR and its partners were able to provide improvements to a total of 180 on-farm wet mills. Additionally, three collectively run wet mills were provided with improved, larger-scale water catchment and treatment pool systems. In a second phase (Mar. 2010 – Sept. 2012), two larger collectively -run wet mills were constructed and 25 individual farmers are being provided with wet mill improvements.

Who are the program participants? A total of 1439 impoverished rural farm families, organized into 23 cooperative organizations (two second tier cooperatives (CECOCAFEN and SOPPEXCCA), 20 base-level cooperatives, and one pre-business organization (CAFENICA). How is the project being measured?

The project has a full time monitoring and evaluation manager responsible for collecting data and monitoring project achievements against quantitative indicators. Each of the environmentally related targets mentioned above is being monitored, as well as many others related to economic development and organizational capacity targets. What barriers/challenges did the project encounter? How were they addressed? As originally conceived and implemented, ACORDAR was to be a 30-month project. Evaluation during this phase suggested that 30 months was too short to achieve sustainable results. Based on recommendations generated from the evaluation process, the consortium designed a 30-month extension, for a total project life of five years. This also gave an opportunity to address other difficulties identified during the evaluation. One of these was the lack of a graduation strategy to ensure that as cooperatives reached self-sustaining levels they would be graduated from the program, freeing resources to aid other cooperatives needing support. In the second 30month phase, creating sustainable capacity in the cooperatives and graduation from the program is included as a part of the project performance indicators. To what do you attribute the success of the project? A major aspect in the success of the project has been the accompanying behavior change and environmental awareness that goes along with the introduction of improved wet mill processing infrastructure. Individual farmers quickly begin to see the effect of the improved processing on their environment, as well as a dramatic decrease in the amount of water used and the level of visible contamination to surrounding water sources. The connection between environmental protection and economic benefit through improved wet mill processing has been important to the success of the project as well: farmers see a direct reduction in the amount of water, labor and time that must be used in the processing of their coffee – thus cutting down on costs. The accompanying improvement in the quality of the coffee bean being processed – caused by better fermentation and greater control of imperfections - has allowed farmers to gain a higher price for their coffee, entering into the increasingly important specialty coffees market. (The project targets a 20% overall increase in family income.) Finally, the ability to work in partnership with existing cooperative structures and partners has allowed LWR to expand the impact of limited resources by leveraging additional funding and increasing the potential for replication.