“The problems began when I was a girl, more than 26 years ago” Eudaly says. Her family and 24 more coffee farming families of Bellavista and Los Sainos towns of El Dovio Municipality in Colombia, noticed that water was scarce. If one of them collected water from the creek, others below the stream would have nothing to drink and when they started walking long distances with a turbine to obtain water, the conflicts started to rise between people.
As the tension rose, the easy “solution” was selling their lands, although no one would pay a decent price for fields without water. Seeing this, the community decided to take the only alternative left: work as a team, identify the causes of this issue and find out solutions together. They mapped the region, went back on their tracks and realized that, little by little, the trees of the forest located by the river basin had been cut down; first to sell the wood, then to grow subsistence crops and finally to produce commercial crops. Moreover, crops had been planted very close to the creek shores.
By working together to seek answers, families in these communities became aware of their own story and territory. According to Eudaly, who nowadays is a teacher in Jose María Falla school located in the same Municipality, she is part of the fourth generation that works together in the area to recover and maintain the forest and the water.
In this process, and with the help of the Center of Investigation for Sustainable Agriculture and Livestock Production Systems, they established the Environmental, Agricultural and Livestock Corporation – CAMPAB. There, every family voluntarily granted a piece of its own land for conservation. Additionally, they started Farmer to Farmer workshops to train other families, depending on the same water sources, on how to take care of the landscape and its resources. By doing this, they gathered the necessary money to buy tree hectares that, added to a land donated by a local landowner, became a natural reserve to protect the river basin.
Today, 80 families enjoy the water that Eudaly and her neighbors recovered. Furthermore, the Valle del Cauca Autonomous Corporation (local institution that manages natural resources in the department) entitled them to manage their territory’s water. This means no external entity can decide what to do or how to manage the water they recovered with so much effort.
Nowadays, this Dovio community makes sure that every new family moving in knows the story and understands the importance of taking care of the water and the trees they planted for more than a decade.
This exemplary case of local action and collaborative spirit inspired Solidaridad, the Sustainable Trade Platform and the Global Coffee Platform to join and contribute to this knowledge transfer process between neighbors through a Field Day in CAMPAB’s style. Additionally, Solidaridad is currently supporting the community to develop a rainwater harvesting system to grow fish, water plants and animals while continuing to take care or their land.
Finally, Solidaridad is planning more peer to peer workshops with them, where farmers with whom Solidaridad works in other areas of the country can participate, so that Dovio families can share their experience and inspire other with their spirit of union, ownership and entrepreneurship.
Check out what the country platform in Colombia is currently achieving
Take a look at the video of the Field Day