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14 May 2024

Ziway Water Hyacinth Project: Closing Session Recap and Future Prospects 

On the 12th of April marked a significant milestone for our collaborative efforts in the Ziway water hyacinth project as we convened for the “Closing & Way Forward” session. The gathering was a vibrant mix of stakeholders including our consortium partners—Dutch rose growers from Ziway, local government representatives, the energetic youth from the briquettes groups, and the creative women from the handicraft groups. 

Recap of the Session 

Our team, represented by Blen, Dedefo, and Inge, had the opportunity to share the comprehensive findings from our recent feasibility study. This study highlighted the potential of transforming water hyacinth, a challenging aquatic plant, into valuable briquettes and handicrafts. The feasibility report, diligently prepared with contributions from local and international experts, analyzed various aspects including product development, market dynamics, financial implications, and organizational structures. 

During the session, the floor was opened to all participants to discuss the study’s conclusions and recommendations. It was inspiring to see such engaged participation, where every voice was heard, including those who are directly involved in the day-to-day handling of the water hyacinth transformation process. 

Key Outcomes from the Feasibility Study 

  1. Product Viability: The study confirmed the viability of both briquettes and handicrafts made from water hyacinth. Prototypes tested in local markets have shown promising results, particularly in terms of quality and market acceptance. 
  1. Market Opportunities: There is a significant market potential for both products. For briquettes, local households and coffee houses showed interest due to the product’s environmental benefits and cost-effectiveness. Handicrafts have found a niche in both local and potentially international markets, including souvenir shops and online platforms. 
  1. Financial Insights: While the project shows potential, the financial analysis indicated a gap between production costs and market price, suggesting the need for strategic financial planning and potential subsidies or support to make the venture sustainable. 
  1. Organizational Strategy: The study recommended the establishment of a structured business model that involves local communities, education institutes and leverages public-private partnerships to ensure sustainability and scalability. 

Discussion on the Way Forward 

The final segment of our session focused on the future of this initiative now that the pilot phase has concluded. Discussions centered on strategies to scale the project sustainably, involving more comprehensive community engagement and exploring further funding opportunities. 

A key agreement from the session was the need to continue refining the product designs and to enhance marketing strategies to better reach potential markets. Additionally, the importance of continuous training for the local groups on production techniques and business operations was emphasized to ensure ongoing development and empowerment. 

Looking Ahead 

As we close the chapter on the pilot phase, we are optimistic about the road ahead. The commitments from our partners and the enthusiasm from the community promise a bright future for the sustainable management of water hyacinth in Ziway. We plan to carry forward the momentum from this session into actionable plans that will benefit not only the environment but also provide sustainable livelihoods to our community partners. We also invite new partners to join us in the scale up phase. Partners that are interested to support: 

  • a public-private partnership in the removal of water hyacinth from the lake,  
  • establishing green social enterprises in briquettemaking and handicrafts 
  • education and research in water hyacinth, technical & business skills development 

For more detailed insights and developments on the project, please visit our project’s dedicated page: Ziway Water Hyacinth Project

We thank all participants for their invaluable contributions and look forward to our continued collaboration toward a greener and more sustainable future. 

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