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Equator Initiative Case Study - Instrument of Peace School

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The village of Saga, located south of Niamey on the banks of the Niger River, was the initial setting for an innovative experiment in converting a troublesome invasive species in the river basin into an economic opportunity for the local community. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) has clogged local irrigation systems, limited navigability of the river, restricted access to local markets, and decreased the viability of the local economy, as well as severely impacting ecosystem health and water quality.
École Instrument de Paix has mobilized community members to collect water hyacinth from the river, before drying the plant material for use in a number of income-generating activities. The organization has been particularly successful at promoting local production of fuel briquettes, which are made of both dried water hyacinth and agricultural waste. These briquettes help to generate income through their sale and improve energy access for marginalized riverbank communities. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize--issued biennially by the Equator Initiative--shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. This project was awarded the Equator Prize in recognition of its contribution to local sustainable development solutions.

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