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Can Water Hyacinth become more Useful ?

Participating students in the student challenge

As fall arrived, so begun the second batch of student challenges for 2022. Students started their journey a couple of weeks ago in September. The participating institutions are Egerton University (Kenya), Gulu University (Uganda) and Häme University of Applied Sciences (Finland). In this challenge, similar to past challenges, team work started remotely for all teams in their home University with collaborative work done through remote meeting applications.

The Finnish team consists of four HAMK students taking the as part in the Global Sustainability Studies from two different degree programmes. Also, the Ugandan team consists of six students from three degree programmes and the eight students from Kenya making a total of 18 students from three countries. The whole team is supported by three mentors, one from each country.

Hämeen University students are three 3rd year Sustainable Development students and a 3rd year Smart and Sustainable Design student. The students from Egerton University in Kenya consists of four students from Agribusiness Management, a student from Agricultural & Applied Economics and a student from Agricultural Extension. The Gulu University students in Uganda come from Agribusiness studies as well. The diversity in the students and the variety of study fields gives an excellent opportunity to combine, exchange knowledge and gain skills from working in multicultural teams.

The challenge been tackled is about the Water Hyacinth in Kenya. They are tasked with the topic to discuss how water hyacinth can become a resource instead of a problem. The students will;

  • Conduct a literature review and interviews with key stakeholders on local approach to utilize water hyacinth biomass in Kenya

  • Study the value chains from water hyacinth biomass to final products and identify the main players involved

  • Analyse different options for utilization of water hyacinth: biogas, bioethanol, biochar and animal feed

  • Identify local companies and other stakeholders for potential collaboration.

The challenge includes two weeks field visit where all the students will meet in Kenya between 9th October to 22nd October and visit towns where the plant species is most common.

The challenges is scheduled to end before the close of the year with the objective that, students will learn about themselves, create new connections, learn about the country of destination and its culture. In addition, they will develop;

  • Team-work skills,

  • Project management and leadership skills

  • Wider perspectives, understanding and handling complexity

  • Attitude, courage and confidence

In the end, they will share their findings from the field in a presentation and write a report to conclude their journey in the Student challenge.

Written by

Jennifer Ohemeng, HAMK


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