The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) and a Non-Governmental Organisation, Mitimeth Recyclers, have trained over 400 riverine dwellers on how to use water hyacinth to make handicraft.
General Manager of LASWA, Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, disclosed this at the graduation ceremony of beneficiaries of the Water Hyacinth Recycling Training in Ikorodu, on Tuesday.
The ceremony featured the display of various handicraft made by the beneficiaries during the 10-day training.
The beneficiaries used the harvested hyacinth to make bags, plate mats, foot mats, jewellery, storage baskets, key holders, bottles, flower vase, among others.
Emmanuel, who described the creative use of water hyacinth as awesome, said the step had become imperative to reduce poverty and unemployment.
According to him, turning waste to wealth is an agenda of the state government and LASWA has keyed into this to increase prosperity while making the waterways safe for boat operators.
“This is actually amazing, I just got my key holders made of water hyacinth.
“What we saw as waste has now been turned to wealth. For me, it is mind-blowing and telling us that from every problem and challenge we see, there is always an opportunity.
“It is very impressive to see how products are being made from the water hyacinth which we see as a major menace from the waterways,” the LASWA boss said.
In her remarks, Mrs Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro, Founder of the Mitimeth, said: “Our goal is to transform this environmental menace into an economic livelihood.
“So, we are taking a problem and coming out with a creative solution. We are empowering members of the community to take advantage of this resource which we have in abundance here and create an ultimate livelihood for women and men”.
According to her, the participants need market access, support and funds to grow the handicraft and contribute their quota to national development.
“By the end of the 10-day training workshop, we are able to demonstrate that these green plants that we have on waterways preventing access can actually be created into products of value.
“All these products were actually made by the trainees.
“We want to appreciate the Lagos State government and LASWA for believing in our commitment to this community development initiative.
“We are looking forward to actually taking this higher.
“There is no reason why Ikorodu cannot become a producing community that manufactures eco-friendly work,” Idachaba-Obaro said.
Idachaba-Obaro said the NGO was poised to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of No Poverty, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Climate Action, among others.
Commenting, Mrs Teju Abisoye, the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) expressed surprise at the items made from water hyacinth.
She said that the fund had the mandate to provide money for startup businesses.
Abisoye, who was represented by Mrs Funso Alabi, Head of Micro Enterprise StartUp, LSETF, urged beneficiaries to take advantage of the training to create a livelihood for themselves and become employers of labour.
She said the trainees could get between N50,000 and N250, 000 funds to start-up businesses, payable between 12 months and 15 months.
The Regent of Ijede, High Chief Aliu Musediku, described the creative handicraft from water hyacinth as strange and new to the people and the community.
“This is new to us, we never thought that the water hyacinth could be transformed into all these objects,” Musediku said.
Another community leader, Chief Babatunde Ogunmuyiwa, the Odofin of Ijede called for more assistance for beneficiaries.
Mrs Mosunmola Eshinlokun, one of the beneficiaries, commended the government and Mitimeth.
“Everybody is surprised to see these things being made from water hyacinth,” she said.
Water hyacinth, dirt and weeds pose a serious danger to safety on waterways.
By our correspondent