Young Nigerien water expert wins top UN Environmental prize

UN Environment today made Niger’s Mariama Mamane a Young Champion of the Earth for her work on a three-in-one solution to some of Africa’s biggest environmental problems: a project that uses the water hyacinth, which chokes waterways across the continent, to create sustainable energy and environmentally friendly fertilizers.

Mariama, 27, who lives in Burkina Faso, is one of six winners – each representing a region of the world – awarded the new prize by UN Environment and polymer-producing giant Covestro. The award gives seed funding and mentorship to outstanding individuals, between the ages of 18 and 30, who have big ideas to protect or restore the environment.

“We must find nature-based solutions to meet the challenges of the planet,” Mariama said. “I decided to spend my time and energy on this project because the transformation of the water hyacinth brings an elegant solution to the problem of the proliferation of this plant.

“This award strengthens my conviction in my project, JACIGREEN, and creates opportunities to bring together experts, investors and opinion leaders to boost its realization.”


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