Environment and Resources

Project: Impact Evaluation of the Intelligent Water Management Project Colombia

Project Duration

11/2014 - 12/2018 (finalized)

Commissioned by

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Project Team (RWI)

Prof. Dr. Jörg Peters, Dr. Maximiliane Sievert, Luciane Lenz


Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC); Centro de Estudios Regionales Cafeteros y Empresariales (CRECE), Colombia; Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de Café (Cenicafé), Colombia; Erasmus Research & Business Support (ERBS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam; Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Leader of Consortium

Erasmus Research & Business Support (ERBS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam


In Colombia, the coffee sector substantially contributes to water imbalances in the Andean region due to excessive water usage and contamination. In light of changing rainfall conditions, probably due to climate change, small independent coffee grower families who drive Colombia’s coffee production are most affected by reduced water availability, higher landslide incidences, and increased water pollution levels. The Colombian Intelligent Water Management project (IWM), co-funded by the Dutch Sustainable Water Fund, intends to contribute to an improved water management among coffee farmers by information and sensitization campaigns, training, hardware investments, and an improved institutional environment. The project directly targets 11,000 coffee farms in 25 river basins all over the country. IWM is endowed with 24.8 million Euros. It is implemented by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) in partnership with the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADR), the private companies Nestlé S.A. and Nestlé Nespresso S.A, as well as the research institutions Cenicafé and Wageningen University. The team from RWI together with CRECE and Cenicafé conducts a quantitative and large survey-based impact evaluation. The study focuses on the evaluation of two activities on the coffee farmer level: first, the dissemination of water efficient devices among 1,650 farmers and second, the training of 11,000 farmers in the areas of good agricultural practices, forest and soil management, community association and gender issues. The impacts of hardware investments will be evaluated using a difference-in-differences approach. For this purpose, a total of around 2000 coffee farms in 50 river basins will be interviewed in 2015 and 2017. 25 of these river basins are targeted by IWM. The remaining 25 river basins will be chosen based on comparability selection criteria and will serve as a control group. Main indicators are domestic and productive water availability and usage patterns, adoption and maintenance of water efficient devices, water contamination, and incidence of water related diseases. The effects of training activities are expected to be too subtle to be measurable only by a survey-based tool. The evaluation will therefore also encompass framed field experiments. Main indicators are know-how about good agricultural practices, awareness of water and ecosystem-related problems, and attitudes towards gender roles and community responsibilities.