SUPER HAND WASHING MACHINES TO LIMIT THE SPREAD OF DISEASES RELATED TO SANITATION SUCH AS COVID-19
As easy and simple as it may sound, hand washing with soap and water is a crucial, efficient, and cost-effective way to limit the spread of transmissible diseases such as the Coronavirus. Nevertheless, this could also be a potential means through which one can be infected by the virus, especially when the hand washing station is in public areas for public usage. This was the main concern that pushed a group of four current PAUSTI students and an alumnus out of their quarantine zones back in April 2020 to come together and develop a series of solar automatic handwashing machines to enable the community to wash their hands without having to touch the tap nor the soap vessel. Thereby, limiting the risk of contamination during hand washing.
- The Washa Team
The Washa is made up of engineers from all over Africa and reflects the true meaning of working together as Africans to solve Africa’s problems. The team members are: - Willy Tounsi, Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (Power Systems) from Cameroon, Team Leader and Control System Designer - Filston Rukerandaga, Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (Telecommunications) from Burundi, Developer, and control box and display board designer - Destine Mashava, MSc Mechanical Engineering from Zimbabwe, Lead Mechanical Engineer - Polline Mwambe, MSc Mechanical Engineering from Uganda, Finance Officer and Mechanical Engineer - Yves Jouontso, MSc Civil Engineering graduate from Cameroon, Plumbing and wastewater solutions expert Our Director, Prof Gabriel Magoma has been the fundamental stepping stone to what we have been able to achieve so far. He has relentlessly been supporting us morally, technically by assigning a supervisor, Prof George Nyakoe, to oversee the project evolution, and above all financially from the first day.
- Washa Machines
So far, we have been able to produce and deploy four (4) Washa machines. The first machine was deployed in May 2020 and was given the name Washa Basic. Washa Basic is incorporated with a sensor below the tap which detects the presence of the user’s hand and dispenses soap for a second. The user is given 20 seconds to properly scrub his/her hands, after which water is served for 10 Page | 2 seconds. The machine has an explicit display system for assistance on how to operate/use it. After the successful implementation of Washa Basic, the team thought it wise to develop an updated machine with a temperature measurement unit given the fact that a rise in body temperature is one of the signs and symptoms of being infected by the Corona Virus. It is then that two updated machines were fabricated in July 2020 and named Washa Max. In addition to operating like Washa Basic, Washa Maxs are equipped with temperature measurement units and SMS alert technologies to send SMS to designated numbers when high body temperatures are measured. After weeks of observing how stressful it was for the machine operators to constantly refill the water reservoirs of Washa Basic and Washa Max, Washa Super was brought to life in October 2020 with automatic water refilling capabilities. This update allows the machine operator to connect an opened tap to the water inlet of the machine and leaves the machine to automatically refill its water reservoir when need be. These machines are not only useful during this period of Covid-19 but will continue being of prime importance as the need for personal and public hygiene keeps growing.
The Washa Project has been very successful since its commencement and has been taken to the international scene in various ways. - A research article titled “Solar Intelligent Integrated Handwashing Machine (Washa max)” was written on the project and presented at the 2020 Sustainable Research and Innovation (SRI) conference organized by the College of Engineering and Technology of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology - The Washa Project participated in the 2020 World Energy Day Youth Innovation Challenge and emerged as the best innovative project among over 26 contesting projects - Washa took part in the EU: Africa the Post Crisis Journey Conference on December 10 - 13, 2020. Out of the over 1000 project ideas which were submitted for the program, Washa was among the 300 selected for the event. - Washa participated in the Pan African University Innovation challenge of August 2020 and the African Telecommunication Union Africa Innovation Challenge of October 2020.
The vision of the team is to optimize the design of Washa machines and make them cost-effective. We are as well thinking of the possibilities of replicating the machines in the various countries of team members. Also, the team has begun brainstorming on other innovative ideas that can cater to the need of other sectors.
We are very positive we Africans have what we need to solve our problems as well as the world's problems. This can only be achieved if and only if we work together as one people regardless of our regions of origin, skin colour, or tribe. We are Africans and we are proud to be children of the motherland.