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  PROJECT ALAOTRA - MODULE WATER HYACINTH

Environmental problems and poverty need to be fought simultaneously in order to achieve sustainable development. Therefore, Madagascar Wildlife Conservation also aims to use this approach in its water hyacinth project.

The Water Hyazinth
The freely floating water hyacinth (Eichornia sp.) originally comes from Amazonia but was spread throughout the world since it was used as an ornamental plant for water ponds. Today, this plant is considered as one of the most invasive species and is at the origin of important ecological, social and economical problems. Parts of the lake Alaotra in Madagascar are also covered with this plant, which harms the local flora, fauna and the human population. Therefore, MHRN decided to initiate a water hyacinth project.

Using the Water Hyazinth
We aim to help the local population in finding valuable ways to use the water hyacinth. To explore different possibilities, we conducted a feasibility study in 2008. The results showed that the Malagasy people are interested in using the plant as a primary product for handicraft and for fuel.

In the village of Andreba, we are starting the production of briquettes from compressed water hyacinth that burn just as well as wood charcoal but are cheaper. The production of handicrafts (e.g. baskets, place mats) from the stem of the plants is being professionalized and new applications are being explored. As a consequence, the pressure on nature is relieved since parts of the lake are freed from the invasive plant. Furthermore, the transfer from papyrus to water hyacinth as basic material for the production of basketry contributes to the preservation of the natural swamps. By selling the handicrafts, a new source of income is generated for the local population.

Finally, using water hyacinth for the production of briquettes will help protect the surrounding forests since their woods will no longer needed to generate charcoal.

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