Our Story

We have decided to make new sense out of what many people view as a nuisance: the water hyacinth. Our project started in the course ‘Reality Studio’ at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. During our 7 week stay in Kenya, the green mat of floating water hyacinths covering the surface of Lake Victoria made a strong impact on us all. We attempted to approach this problem by seeing the weed as a resource. With simple means on the rooftop of our guesthouse, we created a range of different products out of the water hyacinth.

During our work, we not only discovered that the plant had a very good absorption quality, but we also found out that 870 000 schoolgirls miss 4 days of school every month1, simply because they cannot afford sanitary protection during their menstruation. With this in mind, we decided to make use of the plant’s absorption ability and focus on developing a biodegradable pad to help these girls. In the construction of the pad, we have striven for comfort, simple means of production and most importantly a low price.

Our 1st Jani pad concept consisted of 4 different layers made entirely out of water hyacinth papers. These papers had different characteristics such as absorbing and preventing leakage. Our 2nd Jani pad concept strives to improve the reliability of the pad further. The top and bottom layer are therefore replaced with a biodegradable plastic. The absorbents remain the same – papers made entirely out of water hyacinth.


» 2. prize Jani- Sanitary towel (We recieved the Young Talant Award, 2nd prize 2010, by the Norweigan Design Council. Yey!)

» Vattenhyacinter blir mensskydd (Article in UNT, a local newspaper in Uppsala, Sweden)

» Bindor av vattenhyacinter (Article in the magazine Forskning & Framsteg)

» Designstudenter kopplar greppet om helheten (Article in Chalmers – Innovationskraft som gör världens skillnad, an insert in the magazine Dagens Industri. Flip to page 18)

» Jani: A Biodegradable Sanitary Napkin Made From Invasive Water Hyacinth (Blogpost at Ecouterre)

Reference List

1 Zana A (2009), Zana A: Tools for Transformation. Accessed from: http://www.zanaafrica.org/ [2009-04-19]