W2E Hyacinth products: dried hyacinth, biochar, community&export briquette
By Victor Langenberg (Deltares)
In a recent workshop with sector representatives from West Africa (Volta’s riparian nations), Deltares highlighted the current VIAWATER Waste2Energy governance and business approach in setting up a business driven Public-Private coalition that is continuously being improved by new knowledge while delivering a green biofuel product made of the noxious water hyacinth that provides 4 returns of investments. Progress of W2E was first presented by several presentations and then a mixed Africa-Netherlands interactive workshop focusing on the governance aspects of adaptive monitoring and management of the threats and successes took place.
The public and private representatives all acknowledge that waterhyacinth along with four other floating plants is turning out to become more and more disastrous for the communities and economies surrounding large lakes, river basins and deltas. This is because they all seem to experience interacting challenges of natural disasters, resource use conflict, basin degradation, population and education. This goes at the cost of important landscapes with economic and ecological values, agriculture, industry and commerce. Effectively addressing these issues requires the involvement and governing of many different stakeholders as well as the application of the right technology and process knowledge that helps realizing short and long term needs. To address these issues would also acquire massive investments while trying to mitigate the key risks in a complexing setting with no clear progress being made. That is frustrating and somewhat running after the facts, one said.
The W2E however explained to the audience that there is an entrepreneurial way of making something out of a hazard while making 4 returns of investment possible. These returns in turn are used for upscaling throughout the basin and are proudly shown to riparian communities that they can play a new part in this while improving their livelihoods and incomes and improving the general degrading environment they directly depend upon as well.
Deltares showed that common approaches of the water resources use in most African cases lead to further degradation of biodiversity, jobs, economic activity and the very severe loss of meaning by communities. To break out of this cycle new entrepreneurs must come forward that create new business that create new inspiration and produce social, natural and also financial capital. The approach of Kisumu was explained in detail and the current trailed products that are made of water hyacinth were shown and were experienced as inspiring. Some of them have been trying for so long to try and do the same but failed. And indeed the challenges are enormous and the W2E approaches are innovative and still have to be proven to be right ones in the long run.
However, one is not alone. With honest stakeholder involvement and consultation, strong not-giving-in orchestration, some good rules to behave, proper monitoring of success, spreading the good news, and the ability to resist failure while up- and downscaling are key elements to organise as best as you can for your business. W2E is currently setting up the governance and business frames for helping out with the organisation of these key elements.
The workshop led to new insights on how we could strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize new partnerships for sustainable inclusive green developments. Several officials and entrepreneurs in the audience will follow the progress of the W2E and have already requested knowledge on how to implement our Kisumu approach in their waters.