Water hyacinth is a free-floating perennial aquatic plant(or hydrophyte) native to tropical and sub-tropical South America. With broad, thick, glossy, ovate leaves, water hyacinth may rise above the surface of the water as much as 1 meter in height. The leaves are 10–20 cm across, and float above the water surface. They have long, spongy and bulbous stalks.
Most experts agree that water hyacinth entered Lake Victoria from Rwanda via the river Kagera. It has spread prolifically, due to lack of natural enemies, an abundance of space, agreeable temperature conditions, and abundant nutrients.
Water hyacinth affects the Lake Victorian population in many negative ways: effects on transportation and fishing are immediately felt and general increase in several diseases, as the weed creates excellent breeding areas for mosquitoes and other insects.
Water hyacinth can be used for manure, braiding material, a source of fibers, a substrate for biogas production, biocleaning of industrial wastewater and is capable of removing arsenic from arsenic contaminated drinking water.
In Kenya the residents around Lake Victoria is still waiting for a solution to the problem.