No fewer than 50 women from the Badagry Local Government Area have been empowered by the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) with the skill to convert water hyacinth to hand craft products.
Water hyacinth is an aquatic plant native to the amazon basin, and is often a highly problematic invasive specie outside its native range.
The Managing Director of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, while addressing the participants said water hyacinth had been a menace to Lagos waterways, impeding safe navigation.
Emmanuel said despite the weed’s negative effect on the waterways, it could still be used for economic purposes.
According to him, "we had not realised that this particular waste can be turned into wealth. This programme is meant to transform waste to wealth. We selected participants across Badagry and 50 women were picked.
"We have taken it to Epe, and now, its Badagry then after here, we will move to other areas and our expectation is that Badagry women will be empowered so they will know how to turn this waste into marketable products with which they can make living and also become mentors to other women.
"They have been carefully selected and this will be a source of revenue for them while to others, it will be an extra income." he said.
Emmanuel said that "after the training, there is a take off grant for them which the governor has approved and will be handed over to them as soon as they are done on Friday."
However, the facilitator and trainer on the use of water hyacinth for hand craft products, Ms Achenyo Idachaba, said water hyacinth is a dangerous aquatic specie and affects navigation of boats, hence the need to equip women with basic skills on how to convert the weed to wealth was essential.
In her words, "we transform water hyacinth to functional use, specifically, hand craft items.
"Water hyacinth has been an environmental menace. It is a danger to aquatic species, it has invaded our waterways. It makes movement of boats cumbersome. It curtails access to the waterways. When fishermen go out with their boats, they get damaged by water hyacinth.
"We are here to empower the communities that are adversely affected by the water hyacinth. We are equipping them with the basic skills. We are taking this adversity to prosperity.
"So many people living within the island, particularly riverine areas had seen water hyacinth as a very dangerous material. It deprives the water of oxygen and also has an effect on species."
"Going with such mind set, they found it difficult to believe that water hyacinth can be turned to useful products."
PIX: Managing Director of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Damilola Emmanuel