Hand-cranked washing machine could help 5 billion people save a lot of time and effort
[Nov 18, 2021: Fino Menezes]
Nav's washing machines - which he named Divya after the woman who inspired them - could free up time for women and young girls to pursue education and paid work. (CREDIT: Facebook/thewashingmachineproject)
Handwashing clothes sounds like a simple task, but for many women around the world it poses a significant obstacle to their wellbeing and livelihood. By providing displaced and low-income communities with an accessible, off-grid washing solution, The Washing Machine Project’s mission is to empower women with the time to take charge over their lives.
“A mother or a child doesn’t have to spend 20 hours a week handwashing clothes,” Nav Sawhney, an engineering student at Bath University, told Oxfam in 2020. Nav has created a manual, portable, washing machine.
Divya, a woman Nav met in southern India, first sparked the idea when she explained the struggle of washing clothes without a machine. This time-consuming, physical burden is often shouldered by women and girls in developing countries.
Now, Nav's washing machines - which he named Divya after the woman who inspired them - could free up time for women and young girls to pursue education and paid work.
Women often carry a disproportionate burden hand washing clothes a task which can take up to to 20 hours per week. We are trying to alleviate the burden of handwashing clothes for women all over the world by providing a manual off-grid washing solution. Our Divya's will make washing clothes faster and easier, giving precious time back to women. (CREDIT: Facebook/thewashingmachineproject)
After research in Iraq, Lebanon, the Philippines and Jordan, as well as India – he came up with a machine that uses only 10 litres of water a cycle, compared with 30 by a typical electric machine, crucial in places where water is short. It’s also made out of off-the-shelf components that are easy to replace.
Sawhney and his fellow volunteers won a grant from Bath University to help the project, and already received orders from Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, as well as from the UNHCR for refugees in Jordan.
Together with the Iraq Response Innovation Lab, Oxfam installed 50 of Nav's machines in an Iraqi refugee camp. The Innovation Lab is a volunteer-led organisation who made all 50 washing machines with 75 volunteers from all over the UK.
The inventor of the off-grid washing machine-cum-exercise-bike made from recycled cycle parts even won a National Award for her design. Remya Jose, now in her 20s, from Kerala, India, is a gifted innovator with a number of ingenious inventions to her credit. The washing-cum-exercise bike that she developed when she was just 14 years old received a National Innovation Award from former Indian President Abdul Kalam.
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