Along the Niger Delta, there is an abundance of water hyacinth that adds a touch of color to the inland waterways. But these aquatic weeds have been wreaking havoc in local communities and ruining the water supply.
A Water Hyacinth is a floating plant that has thick glossy round leaves, inflated leaf stems and lavender flowers.
The ecological problems caused by water hyacinth includes the degradation of the water quality by blocking photosynthesis, a natural process that produces oxygen needed by fish and other underwater plants.
Subsequently, this water weed reduces biological diversity and alters the native plant and animal communities by pushing them away and crushing them.
However, one Nigerian women is taking advantage of this aquatic nuisance and turning it into a profitable business.
“we are transforming this aquatic menace into several useful products, clearing our waterways and mitigating methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, typically emitted from weeds decomposed under anaerobic conditions.”
Idachaba, a computer scientist and business analyst moved from the US to Ibadan, Nigeria to set up an environmental consulting business. It wasn’t until 2011 that her current company, MitiMeth was formed.Image: cartier womens initiative
The birth of MitiMeth came after she undertook research that revealed communities in Southeast Asia who also faced the same predicament were harvesting the weed and transforming them into woven wonders.
Mitimeth produces home and personal accessories made from the invasive weeds that ravish the Nigerian waterways. Mitimeth not only helps solve an environmental problem but this social enterprise is also empowering people at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
Achenyo engages seven different local communities that harvest water hyacinth and weave it into usable products. Moreover the MitiMeth founder also provides product development training in various communities.
Watch Achenyo Idachaba’s Ted Talk ‘How I turned a deadly plant into a thriving business.’ Or check out the Mitimeth website for more information.
Main Image: CNN