A neighborhood friendship in Tamil Nadu made Sikh Engineer in U.K develop low cost washing machine for poor women

It seems a good idea to distribute low cost washing machines across the impoverished Indian households where women are grappling with the trouble of hand washing. A London based engineer,Navjot Sawhney, has made it a reality as his team developed ”Divya 1.5” a low cost washing machine and it is now ready for shipping to India.

Navjot Sawhney’s project to supply low-cost washing machines to countries such as India, where hand washing of clothes remains a time-consuming exercise, has got off to a good start following field research in camps in Iraq, a PTI report said.

According to the report, Navjot Sawhney set up his washing machine project three years ago to provide energy efficient manual washing machines to low-income regions. Now it has been working with volunteers and partners to conduct research ahead of supplies.

The organisation has also launched a crowdfunding appeal on just giving to raise 10,000 pounds to aid the delivery process, the report said.

“At the washing machine project, we believe in the power of innovation to empower lives. That is why we have developed an off-grid, manual washing machine, which saves 60-70% of time and 50% of water, for people in low-income and displaced communities,” reported PTI quoting notes from the charity’s fundraising drive.

“This idea was born out of a friendship. Nav, our founder, was on a sabbatical in rural South India, making clean cook stoves when he met his neighbor, Divya. It was through their conversations at the end of each day that Nav came to realize the significant burden unpaid labor places on women,” it notes.

Sawhney was on a sabbatical from his engineering career in the UK when the idea of a hand-cranked washing machine struck him.

“While in Tamil Nadu, I lived in a small village called Kuilapalayam. The community had limited access to continuous electricity, and water was switched on twice a day,” recalls Sawhney.

“My next-door neighbor Divya and I became excellent friends. While we talked, she would hand wash her clothes. I was always so shocked at how long and how much effort it would take to conduct the relatively unproductive task,” he said.

This led to him coming up with the “Divya 1.5” model of his manual washing machine, inspired by a simple salad spinner. Now 30 of the Divya 1.5 will be used at Mamrashan Refugee Camp in Iraq with the help of the charity Care International. It is expected to positively impact 300 people and save up to 750 hours annually per household, equivalent to two months of daylight hours. Sawhney plans to head to Iraq at the beginning of September to help distribute the machines.

Later this year, the washing machine project aims to fulfill orders to refugee camps in Jordan. Eventually, the plan is for these machines to be shipped to other parts of the world, including India and Africa, PTI reported.