From meeting immediate needs to building resilience - Rwandan Landslides

Meet the grower of our IMPACT Espresso - Shyira community (Shyira washing station)

The Shyira washing station was built in 2017 to expand the selling potential of the cooperative of coffee growers that live and work in the town of Shyira.

75% of the coffee producers in Shyira are women, and their employment brings a second income and financial stability to local families.
Additionally, the Shyira washing station creates many seasonal jobs for the surrounding community and provides many options for income-generating activities, like construction and maintenance of the processing station, coffee harvest, and processing.


Rwanda Shyiru raised beds


It is the highest sitting processing station in Rwanda (1850-2300m), and the weather conditions, soil type, and its high-altitude lands make this region an ideal setting for high-quality coffee processing and production. The coffees have developed a truly unique style and flavor that differs from all other Rwandan coffees.

The washing station provides a full spectrum of processing - fully washed, natural, honey, and experimental processing methods, like anoxic (fermentation in an oxygen-free environment).


Rwanda Shyiru coffee raised bed


Story of Hope and Revival 

In May 2020, devastating landslides ripped through northern Rwanda. The catastrophe took 28 lives, destroyed 325 homes (including 38 homes of Shyira and Vunga coffee families), and wiped away coffee plantations and the famous Shyira and Vunga Coffee Washing Stations. Many hundreds of farmers were displaced from their homes, and their communities' infrastructure, including electrical and water supply infrastructure, was destroyed.


Rwanda land slides


In the Nyabihu district:

65% of the community's income comes from coffee farming.
Farming families own 0.4 ha of land and produce around 1200-1400kg of coffee cherries a year.
Most household income is less than 700 EUR a year, and communities heavily rely on the crops and livestock they grow, which were destroyed.

Our partners, specialty coffee exporters - Rawmaterial - together with the local coffee cooperative Muraho Trading Co. and the Rwandan government, worked to the best of their capability and responded fast with strategic three phases:

  1. Meeting immediate needs; 
  2. Supporting recovery;
  3. Building long-term environmental and social resilience.


Rwandan government supporting recovery


Phase 1 - Meeting immediate needs

In a month's time, the incredible response of the coffee community and the fast action of Rawmaterial raised enough funds to get urgently needed food and water supplies, blankets, and clothing, and start removing debris.

Phase 2 - Supporting recovery

Coffee communities around the world, including coffee shops, roasters, and coffee professionals, joined forces and organized Nyabibrew Day to raise funds for supporting the recovery, which included rebuilding houses and infrastructure, replanting trees, including 4488 coffee trees and 26ha of crop fields, and livestock like goats, cows, chickens needed for food.

Phase 3 - Building long-term environmental and social resilience

Supporting recovery and work in the region continues to build environmental and social resilience against the climate crisis and economic freedom for local communities.

Muraho and Rawmaterial continue reforestation and training in better land management practices to reduce the risk of future landslides through many small, compounding choices and actions.

There are different community events to rebuild the community's well-being by organizing workshops, coming together, sharing a meal, talking about future plans, and dancing.


Rwanda Shyiru community


The restoration of the Shyira and Vunga villages, coffee plantations, and processing stations is a wonderful story that highlights the power of collective initiative and impact. Local geographical and climate conditions can bring both prosperity and disaster to the local communities. Coffee growing is their main source of income, and it is highly dependent on geographical and climate conditions. Therefore, it is crucial that local communities continue to receive both financial and knowledge support to be able to work sustainably and safely in this environment, to continue providing the highest quality coffee.

By focusing on such examples as Shyira, we hope to promote an understanding of the challenges faced by coffee growers and the impact we, through our purchasing choices, have on coffee regions and communities. Only together can we work towards the coffee industry and global community that is focused on quality and shared prosperity,  resilience,  inclusiveness, and responsibility.

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