CREEC WATER HYACINTH RESEARCH TAKES SHAPE
Although exotic aquatic weeds have been reported to be present in Africa since the end of the nineteenth century they started infesting massively in African freshwater bodies during the early 1950s and rapidly spread in many countries. The growth of these weeds is extremely fast and this allows them to develop huge infestations in areas where they had not been reported only a few years earlier. These plants invaded lakes, ponds, rivers, canals and agricultural fields, becoming noxious weeds. The damage to the environment and the economy is enormous, having a disrupting impact on agriculture, fisheries, production of electricity, transportation, health, means of sustenance, living conditions and social structure.
The project will focus on utilizing invasive aquatic macrophytes such as water hyacinth in combination with nutrient rich waste and immobilized microbial systems to maximize the production of biomass whilst generating clean water and recovering nutrients in low income communities, by developing innovative biotechnology solutions that promote resource efficiency and long-term sustainable services. The new started earlier this year is titled “Fertiliser and clean water from invasive aquatic macrophytes” is a UK government funded Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Many communities in Uganda are still suffering from poverty, malnutrition, poor agricultural yields and poor sanitation which affect the quality of life. Their socio-economic wellbeing is directly or indirectly related to energy consumption. Cooking is also generally fuelled by fossil fuels which are not only hazardous to human health but are damaging to the environment. During a recent visit by Dr Miller from the University of Leeds, the Co-Investigator helped CREEC to identify three sites suitable for the collection of water hyacinth for research purposes. The water hyacinth will be fed into a biogas digestor which will provide quality biogas suitable for cooking, refrigeration, and power generation which will result in reduced emissions and health impacts associated with wood combustion which is relied on for cooking in African regions.