In its effort to contribute towards the fight against the COVID19 pandemic, the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) called on staff and students to come up with innovations that would address some challenges related to the disease.
And already, one team of staff members under the Estates Development Department has come up with an automatic water and soap dispenser that would help eliminate risks of contamination as people touch taps and soap bottles during hand washing.
“Our innovation is on smart hand washing where people will start the process and complete it without touching anything as the water and soap will dispense automatically due to sensors that have been placed close to the water tap and the soap dispensing tap,” said Charles Makamo, who led the innovators team, during a media presentation and demonstration of the product today at MUST campus in Thyolo.
Makamo said the other advantage with this innovation is that it is mobile and can run on three sources of power, namely Escom electricity, solar and batteries. As such, it can be used in both urban and rural settings.
“That is not all, the prototype we are showcasing today is bulky because inside it we have a water bucket, soap bucket and another bucket to collect the used water.
However, we can make it small to cater for those who have running water as we can connect it directly to household or office water system and even for used water, we can connect an outlet direct to the drainage system. In so doing, we will eliminate the water bucket and the water collection bucket,” said Makamo to a group of corporate representatives and the media.
According to Robert Mkandawire who spoke on behalf of the Director of Research, Postgraduate Studies and Outreach, the product presented today is one of the several innovations that are currently under development at the university.
“When we learnt about the challenges of COVID19, we sat down and agreed to set up teams that can come up with innovations that would in a way help in the fight against the disease and these innovations are being supported under the Centre for Innovation and Industrial Research (CIIR).
However, since we do not have enough resources, we are calling upon the private sector to come in and join hands to ensure that we come up with more innovations that can be commercialized and help our people out there,” said Mkandawire.
A representative of NBS Bank, Charles Bello said the COVID19 has affected all sectors including banks and they are all looking at ways of helping to prevent their customers from contracting the virus within their premises.
“The product is good as it ensures no direct contact with the water and soap source. This is what is missing in most of the hand washing facilities.
The other good thing is that it is adaptable to different settings and can come in smaller sizes depending on where it will be installed. We will go back to our office and see how best we can support the initiative,” he said.