Kenyan Celebrated Globally Over New Tech Ending Water Hyacinth

  • Dominic Kahumbu speaks during an interview with Reuters near the town of Kisumu.
    Dominic Kahumbu speaks during an interview with Reuters near the town of Kisumu.
    Reuters
  • Dominic Kahumbu, brother to Kenyan conservationist and Citizen TV host Paula Kahumbu, is making headlines over his unique invention aimed at converting water hyacinth into clean cooking fuel.

    Dominic attributed this to the use of biogas technology. He added that his company, Biogas International undertook the project in order to enable families to switch from wood or charcoal.

    He added that the switch was vital especially for the elderly who face a huge risk while using either wood or charcoal as fuel -both have been classified as hazardous by the World Health Organisation.

    A worker shreds water hyacinth in order to be converted into clean cooking fuel.
    A worker shreds water hyacinth in order to be converted into clean cooking fuel.
    Reuters

    "Water hyacinth is a blessing in disguise, the elderly people who should be retiring are choking themselves to death, they should all have biogas," Kahumbu informed the media. 

    He has gained global recognition with international reports such as Reuters widely covering the invention. 

    The weed-like plant has posed a menace to those living around the lake with the plant causing harm to aquatic life. The weed also helps bacteria and mosquitoes flourish hence poses a great health risk to the locals. 

    The project has thus far provided 50 biogas digesters to families in Kisumu and Western Kenya due to the presence of water hyacinth in large parts of Lake Victoria. Many families received the machines for free while the company subsidised the rest. 

    The digester functions by using two to three kilograms of water hyacinth in order to power a cooker that can be used for more than four hours. 

    Dominic pointed out that the technology has the capacity to scale but is currently hindered by the high cost of production. 

    However, to resolve this, Biogas International is partnering with UK-based drug company AstraZeneca in order to increase production. 

    "Two larger versions of the equipment, which are still in the testing phase, would produce clean fuel on an industrial scale for restaurants, poultry farms and fish drying facilities in the area," read part of a report by Reuters. 

    Dominic's invention comes as her sister Paula recently won the 2021 Whitley Gold Award for her achievements and contributions to conservation efforts. 

    "I want to see a global shift in the narrative where Africans are the storytellers about African wildlife and assume the lead in efforts to protect it," she stated.

    File image of award-winning conservationist Dr Paula Kahumbu.
    File image of award-winning conservationist Dr Paula Kahumbu.
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