Lake Tana is the most important freshwater lake in Ethiopia. Besides pressures on water quality resulting from urbanization and deforestation, the invasion of the exotic water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) poses new threats to the ecosystem. Water hyacinth, endemic to South America, is widely considered as the world’s worst aquatic invasive weed. In 2011, the weed appeared on the northern shores of Lake Tana, expanding in south-eastern direction. The lake area affected by water hyacinth was last estimated in 2015 at 34,500 ha, which equals 16% of the total lake surface. In this research, the benefits of water hyacinth control and eradication for the rural population inhabiting the northern and north-eastern villages bordering Lake Tana, are investigated. In the area, the population largely depends on farming and fishing. An assessment of the total economic benefit of eradication was conducted. The stakeholder-centered approach led to measuring the willingness to contribute in labor and cash terms. Results showed smallholders in the study are willing to contribute over half-a-million euros annually. Costs of management actions can be weighed to the benefits, where further research is needed on the impact on other stakeholder groups. Moreover, wetland management should advance to explore multiple pathways in an integrated approach: water hyacinth control, water hyacinth utilization and sustainable waste water management.
Van Oijstaeijen, W., Van Passel, S., Cools, J., Janssens de Bisthoven, L., Hugé, J. J. A., Berihun, D., Ejigu, N., & Nyssen, J. (2020). Farmers’ preferences towards water hyacinth control: A contingent valuation study. Journal of Great Lakes Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jglr.2020.06.009