Stephen Wamukota from Kenya created a semi-automatic handwashing machine, for which he was awarded the Presidential Order of Service, Uzalendo (Patriotic) Award.
In many countries across the world, the lack of access to resources can make following the guidelines of social distancing and good hygiene difficult. In many countries in the Global South, for instance, access to water remains scarce and many people have to share a basin and other sanitation facilities. Therefore, frequent handwashing in a safe manner simply is not possible. In order to combat this, a young boy from Kenya developed an inventive machine that helps stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus even if many users have to share a single handwashing station, the BBC reports. He has since received the national Patriotic Award for his invention.
9 year old Stephen Wamukota is among the 68 who received the Uzalendo Award yesterday. We are very proud of him.— Mobile Journalism Africa (@MoJo_Africa) June 2, 2020
We did his story in April: https://t.co/YRsmKL65WE#MobileJournalismAfrica #OurStoriesAreBestToldByUs pic.twitter.com/n2EEdT3hZ4
At nine years old, Stephen Wamukota created a way for people to use foot pedals to start and stop the flow of water when washing one's hands. His hand-washing machine allows users to tip soap and a bucket of water using these pedals. This means they don't have to touch any surfaces with their hands, thus reducing the risk of spread. He came up with the idea after watching a show on TV that shared ways to prevent catching the virus. In school, he was learning how to draw tables and chairs, which inspired the machines, he said in an interview. So far, he has built two such machines. The nine-year-old stated, "I now have two machines and I want to make more." He built the machine with spare wood, his father James Wamukota revealed.
This homestead in Nyamira North sub county has innovated a non touch improved hand washing facility to defeat the coronavirus pandemic. Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs. #KomeshaCorona update@KenyaGovernors @NyamiraG pic.twitter.com/6NE1zrKet4— Ministry of Health (@MOH_Kenya) April 23, 2020
"I had bought some pieces of wood to make a window frame, but when I came back home after work one day I found that Stephen had made the machine," he shared. "The concept was his and I helped tighten the machine. I'm very proud." James repairs electronic goods for a living and said that his son has always been interested in learning about the tools and skills of his trade. He first posted about his son's invention on Facebook, where it quickly gained attention and went viral. After people took notice of the young boy's ingenuity, the Kenyan government shortly did as well.
Therefore, Stephen was awarded the prestigious Presidential Order of Service, Uzalendo (Patriotic) Award on Monday. He is one of 68 recipients of the award and said he was "very happy" to receive the recognition. Stephen, who lives with his family in Mukwa village, in Bungoma County, Western Kenya, wants to be an engineer when he grows up. The county governor has even promised the young inventor a scholarship so he can pursue his education. While the family's village is yet to report a single case of Coronavirus, James still worries that the disease could come to his area. At present, Kenya has reported more than 2,000 cases of the illness and 69 deaths.