What is The Washing Machine Project?
The Washing Machine Project was born in 2018 when our founder, Navjot Sawhney, embarked on a trip to India. He was taking a sabbatical from his engineering career and spent the year designing and making cookstoves in rural communities. His neighbour was a lady called Divya, a young mother who spent her day carrying out the domestic labour within her household. She was the only person on Nav’s street who could speak English, which she had learnt during her limited time at school. They would share stories about their lives, hopes and dreams. It is this friendship which continues to inspire The Washing Machine Project’s work today.
Nav wanted to ensure that this washing machine was accessible and affordable. As such, it needed to be manually powered to reduce the need for energy sources (which are often expensive and unreliable in these settings). Moreover, it needed to be ergonomic and easy to use, not only to reduce the physical aches and pains associated with handwashing clothes – including skin irritation due to close contact with detergents – but so that all members of the family could take responsibility over the laundry, not just women. Finally, it had to use less water than an electric washing machine and handwashing.
What is The Washing Machine Project’s mission?
The Washing Machine Project is a grassroots social enterprise dedicated to alleviating the burden of handwashing clothes for low-income and displaced persons around the world.
Since 2018, we have designed and piloted a manual, low-cost washing machine (named Divya) in Iraqi Kurdistan. Results show that our machine reduces the amount of time spent handwashing clothes by 75%, from around 2 hours per day to just 30 minutes. Furthermore, it uses just 20 litres of water per 5kg load of washing, substantially less than handwashing or electric washing machines. This pilot involved the distribution of 50 of our Divyas and, with the family sizes in mind, it positively impacted around 40 people in total. We intend to reach many more communities in 2021 and beyond including in India, Cameroon, The Philippines and Lebanon.
Through our work we are making a unique contribution to supporting seven of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including Goals 3 (good health and well-being), 5 (gender equality) and 17 (partnerships for the goals).
How can you help?
There are lots of fun ways you can get involved in supporting The Washing Machine Project.
1. Organise an individual or team fundraising challenge, such as a walkathon, a marathon, bake sale or anything else that inspires you! Get creative and spread the word about us! Set up your JustGiving page from this page.
2. Give a donation to our JustGiving page - take a look at our shopping list below to see the difference your gift could make. Key materials and to see where your money can go.
3. Follow us on social media to keep up to date on all of our latest news and to share who we are with your friends and families.
What could your donation do?
Monitoring and evaluation after distribution
To understand the WaSH habits of one person
Divya Two Washing Machine (at scale)
To deploy a 30-machine pilot
Fundraising for this partnership with Electrocomponents is carried out with the associated grant making charity TWMP Foundation. TWMP Foundation is a grant-funding charity. As a charity they focus on making grants to individuals or organisations to undertake research, development and deployment of practical solutions to everyday problems. In doing so, they aim to improve the lives of communities affected by poverty, conflict or natural disasters.
The Washing Machine Project Foundation is a registered charity in England & Wales (No.1193480).