Fairtrade coffee farmers hit by Costa Rican earthquake

05 February 2009

Members of the COOCAFE cooperative were among the hundreds of people devastated by the powerful earthquake which hit Costa Rica on January 8th.  The earthquake, which registered 6.2 magnitude on the Richter scale, affected around 128 000 people and left around 40 people dead.  It also caused an estimated US $100 million in severe damage to infrastructure, including houses, roads, bridges and the agricultural sector.

In the region of Sarapiquí, one of the worst hit by the earthquake, the local Fairtrade cooperative suffered around €150 000 (US $195 000) worth of direct damages to its office buildings, stores, merchandise, computer and office equipment, and other infrastructure, much of which had been developed through Fairtrade funds.  Twenty of the coffee farmer members had their houses and farm lands entirely destroyed.

Coopesarapiquí R. L., a local chapter of COOCAFE, estimates that more long term losses will follow.  Many of the means of livelihood in the Sarapiquí region has been destroyed, including the closure of two of the major employing businesses and the destruction of tourist infrastructure and natural attractions.

In response to the situation of Costa Rican Fairtrade members, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International is supporting COOCAFE’s call for immediate relief.  Donations may be directed to aid organizations working on disaster relief for the Costa Rican earthquake, which may be found on the UNDP Costa Rica webpage.

 
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