Thursday 14 December 2017

Women Trained in Water Hyacinth Recycling in Badagry

Water Hyacinth

In line with Lagos State Government’s policy of empowering residents, especially those residing at the grassroots, the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) has organised training for women in Badagry Division on how to convert water hyacinth to different household items and other personal effects. The programme was meant to make the women embrace the waste-to-waste agenda of the state government.
The women were picked from different communities in the Badagry Division. It was the first time that government is taking such step in empowering Badagry women in crafts using water hyacinth.
After the five-day intensive coaching which began penultimate Monday, government, on the last day of the programme, gave 50 participants N15, 000 each as take-off grant to launch them into business.
Presenting the grants to beneficiaries, LASWA Managing Director Mr Damilola Emmanuel said agency’s focus was to fight poverty. He said the weed which has become a major menace to water bodies could be harvested and turned into means of livelihood.
“We have realised that this particular waste can be turned into wealth. This programme is meant to transform waste to wealth. We picked 50 participants across the different divisions in Badagry.
“This initiative has been taken to Epe earlier in the year and now, it’s in Badagry. After here, we will move to other zones. The expectation of the participants is to be empowered so that they will know how to turn this waste into marketable products with which they can make a living and in turn mentor other women.
“This will be a source of revenue for them while to others, it will be an extra source of income,” he said.
The state government, at the beginning of the five-day training, had promised to give the women an undisclosed amount as grant. The grant, according to government, would enable them to begin a micro-business on the skills acquired. After the training, the women received N15, 000 each as take-off grant.
They and a traditional head of the community praised the state government for the gesture. They said the amount was enough to help them start their businesses.
One of the beneficiaries, Zongbosi Mautin, praised the government for the training. She promised to deploy the knowledge she acquired at the training to improve her life and the entire family.
“I have learnt a lot about water hyacinth. I thank the state government for the initiative. Water hyacinth was like a problem to us. I am grateful for the opportunity to know that we can turn this problem to profit.”
Continuing, Mautin said: “I intend to acquire more skills on how to convert water hyacinth to wealth. The N15, 000 take-off grant will help me in my plan to begin the business since the raw materials are readily available.”
Usifo Angela, another beneficiary said she would manage the grant in starting a business, even as she said she would approach members of her family and friends in order to raise additional funds to augment the money she received from government so that she could begin a thriving business on handicraft.
“I will start by introducing my work to friends and members of my family. The amount is all right because most of the raw materials are easily available by the waterside. One can effortlessly get the coconut seeds and water hyacinth here.”
The traditional head of Mobee Kingdom in Badagry, Chief Patrick Yedenu Mobee thanked the state government for bringing such initiative to his people.
He said his people never knew that water hyacinth could be useful if it is converted into something of commercial value. He advised his people to deploy the skills acquired to positive use and improve their economic status.
“This is another wonderful initiative of the government and a good development if our people could embrace it. It is also going to boost the economy of Badagry, Lagos and Nigeria.” Chief Mobee said.
LASWA’s Managing Director Mr Emmanuel, assured beneficiaries that the government would be willing to scale up their activities and include the scheme in the list of items which could be subsidised by the state’s Employment Trust Fund.
He further revealed that LASWA would be embarking on regular monitoring of the activities of the beneficiaries “for follow ups after a few weeks, just to know how they are faring on the skills.”
The Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) Mr Akin Oyebode re-assured the beneficiaries that they would be supported by the government. He said the Fund would be ready to give them more grants.
“We have a scheme for people like this. We have asked them to keep their certificates, bring them together as a group and take them through our loan application process. For this year, we are no longer funding any programme, because we don’t give out funds in December. But we will not hesitate to accommodate them next year,” Oyebode said.
On the accessibility of loans, he said the process of accessing loan from LSETF is easy. He said: “The only collateral we request is social collateral which is an individual who can stand for you as a guarantor. Our standard rate for the loan is five per cent a year. That is the cheapest that you can get in Nigeria today.”
The facilitator and trainer on the use of water hyacinth for handicraft products, Ms Achenyo Idachaba, founder of Mitimeth commended the women on their enthusiasm to learn.
She said: “We transform water hyacinth to functional use, specifically, handicraft items. Water hyacinth has been an environmental menace. It is dangerous to aquatic species. It has invaded our waterways and makes movement of boats cumbersome. It curtails access to the waterways. When fishermen go out with their boats, they are always afraid of water hyacinth because it can damage them.
“We are here to empower the community that is adversely affected by the water hyacinth. We are equipping them with the basic skills. We are turning this adversity to prosperity.”
So many people living within the islands, particularly, riverside areas had seen water hyacinth as very dangerous substance. It deprives the water of oxygen and also has an effect on species.
Going with such mindset, they found it difficult to believe that water hyacinth can be converted to useful products.
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