The freely floating Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia sp.) originally comes from Amazonia but was spread throughout the world through its use as an ornamental plant in ponds. Today, this plant is considered as one of the most invasive aquatic species world-wide, and is responsible for contributing to numerous ecological, social and economic problems. Parts of Lake Alaotra in Madagascar are now covered by this plant, which harms the local flora, fauna and the human population.
Using the Water Hyacinth
MWC aims to help the local population in finding ways to use the invasive Water Hyacinth in a profitable way. To explore different possibilities, we conducted a feasibility study in 2008. Since then an increasing interest has been shown by the local population in using the plant as a source for alternative income.
In the village of Andreba, we started the production of fertilizer from composted Water Hyacinth. The results showed that composted Water Hyacinth can replace cow dung which is comparatively rare and expensive. The production of handicrafts (e.g. baskets, place mats) from the stem of the plants is also being professionalized and other new applications are being explored. The use of Water Hyacinth instead of papyrus for the production of basketry also contributes to the preservation of the natural swamps. By selling the handicrafts, a new source of income is generated for the local population.