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Community Contribution

How CLA Improved Cooperation and Livelihoods in Central American Coffee

Kate Scaife Diaz, Nick Rosen
For Central American coffee farmers to achieve lasting income gains, there must be greater coordination between numerous stakeholders in the sector, such as cooperatives, exporters, and financial institutions, to support the investments necessary to improve smallholder productivity. This case study examines the Better Coffee Harvest program (2014-2018), a public-private partnership that is working to improve the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers in El Salvador and Nicaragua. 
To achieve this, the program adopted key elements of the CLA approach, such as openness, external collaboration, and pause and reflect, and planned for the appropriate staffing and budgeting to implement it. This allowed the Better Coffee Harvest program to leverage its monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities to engage stakeholders and share information, ideas, and connections with sector actors, facilitating the kind of cooperation needed for lasting change. 
Using the CLA approach helped Better Coffee Harvest meet its key performance targets and improve coordination across the larger coffee industry. A team-led focus on data for reflection and learning meant project leadership had the inputs, feedback and time necessary to make informed decisions. The project’s efforts to convene stakeholders to discuss findings also had a significant effect on the sector. After participating in roundtables where project results were discussed, industry stakeholders signed new sales contracts, formed new partnerships, and launched private-sector initiatives to address long-standing challenges in the sector. 

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