Turning water hyacinth into useful products

The 19th of July was a day of celebration for 11 women in Blesbokspruit, South Africa. After a training of 6 or 12 weeks they finished their training in entrepreneurship from the Thekga company. The women have been trained to make useful products out of the harvested water hyacinth.

The Blesbokspruit project is part of the Blue Deal partnership in South Africa. The objective of this project is to improve the water quality and thereby restore the ecological status of the wetland. The project aims to improve quality of the water in the Vaal river area, which millions of people depend on.

From threat to opportunity

The use of the water hyacinth for the production of articles and home decoration is an interesting example of how a threat can be changed in an opportunity. The water hyacinth is one of the invasive species that blossom as a result of the bad water quality in many locations in South Africa. The water hyacinth gets removed by hand and by machines. There are also plans to use the water hyacinth on a wider scale for biobased products because there is plenty of it. When a water hyacinth plant blooms, the seeds will stay in the ground for 20 years, which means it is a difficult specie to eradicate.

Blesbokspruit work visit

The celebration of the graduates was part of the program of the Blesbokspruit work visit in July 2022. Other important parts of the visit were:

  • the preparation of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with all the stakeholders in September 2022;
  • the evaluation of the results and lessons learned of the first phase of this Blue Deal partnership;
  • the preparation for Phase 2 of the Blue Deal programme;
  • the selection of a new Young Expert for a traineeship programme of 2 years;
  • the alignment of the water quality goals, activities and planning.