“Eichhornia,” for about two years, has been invading the surface of the Orontes river, al-Ghab Plain, endangering all types of organisms, the fish wealth and environment, while the attempts at finding a useful way to fight its proliferation were repeated to no avail.
Ahmad al-Yassin, a farmer from al-Ghab Plain, triggered by the “necessity is the mother of invention” saying, managed, with simple tools, to create a machine that collects and immediately grates the “Eichhornia” accumulated on top of the Orontes river’s water.
“About two years ago, the Eichhornia invaded the Orontes river. We used pesticides; we left no means to fight it, but they were all useless,” Ahmad told Enab Baladi.
The “Eichhornia” is a universal epidemic that is not limited to al-Ghab Plain, causing diseases to humans and consuming the water needed and suitable for agriculture on daily basis, for each of the transplants consumes from tow to three liters of water a day.
The people of al-Ghab Plain depend on agriculture and fishing as a source of income, utilizing the presence of the Orontes River, but the spread of the “Eichhornia” prevents the people from making a living from both agriculture and fishing, according to Ahmad.
A Massive Benefit through a Little Cost
The people of al-Ghab Plain, rural Hama, lack up to date machines, which triggered them to make their own machines with the least costs possible, as to prevent the proliferation of this plant.
Ahmad described how he created it, saying: “I took the engine of my motorcycle, and in two months and with $800, I fixed the engine to a small boat. I installed razors at the front of the boat, which turn in circles like wind mills, in a manner that enable them to grate the plant, which dies once its cover is scratched”.
Ahmad calls on the humanitarian organizations to offer support to the people of al-Ghab Plain and to fund this project to be capable of cleaning larger spaces occupied by this plant, for a similar machine could be made but with a larger capacity, since the one he made can grate two dumans only.
What is “Eichhornia” ?
The “Flower of the Nile,” “Eichhornia” or “Water Lily,” is a plant with Brazilian origins. It is called the “Flower of the Nile,” because it proliferates on the surface of the Nile river. It first entered Egypt at the reign of Mohmmad Ali Basha, who brought it as a decorative plant, for it has beautiful purple flowers.
This poisonous plant lives on top of water, and the threat it poses has increased with the expanding spaces it started to cover in the past a few years, especially in unsafe areas, for it multiplies 11 times a day, which hinders the ability at fighting or eliminating it, thus, spreading further over different water bodies in the area where it exists and moving to adjacent ones.
The plant floats on the surface of the water and multiplies very quickly, consuming vast quantities of water and oxygen, changing its shape and making it rotten and smelly.
The official news agency (SANA) quoted the Director of Water Resources in the al-Ghab Plain in 2014, that the spread of this plant is due to the availability of the appropriate environment, high temperature, needed water quality, and the lack of heavy machines.
The Egyptian government has managed to limit its proliferation by spreading certain insects that destroy it, taking into consideration the “ecological balance,” after having been forced to use highly toxic pesticides that led to the death of animals.