As part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan – the company’s blueprint for sustainable growth, it had has announced a commitment plan to help 25 million people gain access to toilet facilities by 2020.
This is intended to contribute to the company’s goal of helping one billion people improve their health and well being by 2020 and sit alongside existing goals on providing access to safe and affordable drinking water and education on the importance of hand washing with soap.
Chief Executive Officer of Unilever Paul Polman said the introduction of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan is “to positively contribute to the societies where we operate and with our portfolio of health and hygiene brands, our understanding of consumers’ needs and our global reach, we are uniquely placed to help improve people’s lives.
“Business can and must be part of the solution in addressing global challenges that affect us all”, he continued.
An estimated 2.5 billion people over representing over one third of the world’s population live without access to adequate sanitation. Of these, over one billion contribute to defecate in the open.
This has a serious impact on people’s health, nutrition, education, on gender equality and sustainable economic development. It is a global strategy that a child dies of diseases related to poor sanitation every two minutes and it could be prevented.
To deliver on its commitment, Unilever together with Domestos in collaboration with UNICEF are working together to change sanitation behaviours and empower communities to become free of open defecation.
Domestos is also partnering with social enterprise eKutir to deliver market-based models that enable entrepreneurs to set up local sanitation businesses in rural areas, and running school programmes with locally-based Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
This will help improve school facilities and educate the next generation of children on the importance of sanitation and hygiene.
Senior Vice President for Household Care at Unilever Jean-Laurent Ingles said “our commitment is the natural next step for Domestos. Domestos aims to kill germs for good that is why we are working to provide access to clean and safe toilets for people worldwide”.
Mr Ingles said his company’s commitment is more than a Corporate Social Responsibility but rather establishing a clear and sustainable link between tackling sanitation and their business ambitions and that “this is where the biggest opportunity lies for businesses and where we can add greatest value”.
Unilever believes that without access to clean, safe toilets, affordable drinking water and the adoption of basic hygiene practices- such as handwashing with soap-too many people around the world will continue to die from preventable diseases such as diarrhea.
So far, the partnership with UNICEF has already reached over one million people with sanitation behaviour change interventions, and this will result in these individuals living in open defecation – free communities.
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