Published on November 11th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan

Invasive Species Turned Economic Opportunity in Kenya

Water hyacinth on Lake Victoria

Water hyacinth is an extremely devastating invasive species in Kenya, choking the largest body of fresh water in Africa, Lake Victoria, but some proactive, inventive folks in the region have found ways to turn this destructive water weed into a useful resource. Via Danielle Nierenberg of our sister site EatDrinkBetter:

“Water hyacinth is actually a really great raw material for so many things,” says Shana. “We are helping communities in Kenya harvest it and use it to create tools to use in the home and to sell. We are using it to make fuel briquettes for cook fires and turning it into a very effective fertilizer.” Village Volunteers is also helping local entrepreneurs produce chairs, baskets, and other pieces of furniture that can be made by weaving together the tough stems and leaves of the hyacinths, as well as biodegradable sanitary napkins.

“The hyacinth invasion is an overwhelming problem,” says Shana, “but it is becoming a business. And by using only locally available materials and labor—oxen help to harvest the hyacinth, for example—the end result is largely self-sustaining.” And while the villages on the shore of the lake can’t eliminate the hyacinth all together, they are clearing it away from the immediate shores, helping to improve the quality of their immediate water supply, as well as habitats for the fish populations they depend on.

Read more on this story here: Turning an Invasive Species into a Livelihood

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Photo Credit: sarah_mccans via flickr (CC license)

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

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