Italian co-ops have raised over €2m (£1.73m) in a fundraising campaign to support those affected by floods in northern Italy earlier this year.
The floods, which hit the country in May, led to the death of at least 13 people, left thousands homeless and destroyed farmland.
Some of the worst affected regions were Emilia Romagna and Marche. Emilia Romagna is recognised around the world for its co-operative economy. Flooding also hit the homes of a number of Coop Italy stores, including chains Coop Alleanza 3.0 and Coop Reno.
Coop Italy, which brings together 77 retail co-ops operating across the country, representing around six million consumer members, announced an immediate €1m (£860,000) collective contribution from the co-ops in response to the floods.
The network then commenced a fundraising campaign, with stores collecting money at cash registers and online, taking the total raised by the end of June to €2,190,736 (£1,893,102). More than 81,000 donors participated in the campaign, including members, employees, customers, and co-operative suppliers.
The funds will go to support those affected by the floods, including farmers, as well as towards reconstruction efforts in partnership with local authorities.
Matteo Dalmonte, a fruit farmer in Ravenna province, told Coop Italy how the flood made hectares of land disappear, and described the work being done to repair the damage. Dalmonte is a member of agri co-op Agrintesa, which supplies Coop Italy and other organisations. He said that a lifetime will not be enough to recover everything, but “there is no question of giving up”.
Another farmer who spoke to Coop Italy said that “every day there is a new problem, but every day we try to solve it”.
Marco Pedroni, president of ANCC-Coop (Italy’s National Association of Consumer Co-operatives), said: “We are satisfied with the results of the solidarity campaign,” adding, “It is a further demonstration of how the world of consumer co-operatives knows how to respond in moments of great hardship; we have always done so in other situations, both on an international emergency level and in our country.
“Now, we look forward with confidence to the reconstruction efforts that can be activated thanks to the contribution of members, employees, and consumers.”