Helping 5 million people
Gain access to toilets
Access to a clean and safe toilet is a basic human right. Yet one third of the world’s population live without proper sanitation. Find out how with one simple choice, you can help millions of people gain access to toilets.
We believe everyone is entitled to clean water and working toilets. Investment in sanitation improves people’s health, creates dignity and privacy, and contributes to children staying in school.
Poor sanitation is currently affecting millions of lives every year. Diarrhoea claims the life of a child every two minutes. Women and girls in particular face significant risks as well. In addition to facing disease, women that are forced to practice open defecation risk shame, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. Harassment, shame and the threat of physical violence that is associated with going to the toilet in the open.
What’s more, of the 24 000 public schools in the country, only 8 000 have flushing toilets. When hygiene and sanitation is poor, the risk of contracting diseases is high. A lack of clean toilets at school can cause serious diseases that can lead to children taking time off from school. Around the world, a staggering 443 million school days are lost every year due to illness associated with poor sanitation1 with children often exposed to a lack of access to adequate sanitation both in school and at home.
As part of our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Domestos and Unilever have collaborated with UNICEF. UNICEF works with Governments, NGOs and local authorities to implement its global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme in over 100 countries around the world. This means working to ensure access and use of basic toilets and ways to separate human waste from contact with people.
One important area of work for sanitation is to end the practice of “open defecation” - when people go out in fields, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using a toilet. In addition to facilitating community-led initiatives to build, maintain and use basic toilets, one of the biggest challenges is in helping communities understand the negative impact that open defecation has.
A bright future has already begun
In South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam, The Domestos Schools programme has provided schools with access to clean toilets and hygiene education for 530,000 schoolchildren in just three years.
In South Sudan, Mary Natie and Susanna Paul from Kasia are just some of the women whose lives have changed for the better thanks to our sanitation programme. Their village has been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF), and a pit latrine has been built in every household.
Mary Natie has eight children, and Susanna has three. The pit latrines have meant significant savings on medical bills for their children because they now have proper sanitation.
Speaking of life before the programme came to their village, Susanna tells of how she watched her son, Kinaregu, become ill. “For three days he was sick and on the fourth he passed away,” she says. “I suspect Kinaregu got sick because we had no sanitary facilities. We were using the bush near the house to go to the toilet, and then feeding the baby without washing our hands and there were so many flies that were outside and could have landed on the waste and then contaminated his food,” she says.
Now, both women are able to spend their extra money on food and clothes for their families, which has meant they can invest money back into their community and provide nourishing food to their children. And most importantly, they now have hope that they will never lose another child to effects of diarrhoea, and look forward to a future where everyone is healthier.
“We cultivate so much more than before, as we are so healthy and our children are too, and we no longer need to stay at home to look after them,” says Mary. “I felt so sad when the children were sick as I thought that I would lose them.” “Now my kids understand the goodness of using latrines and they don’t get sick,” she says.
In addition to Domestos helping 5 million people gain access to toilets around the world, we are committed to reaching 25 million people by 2020. To find out more about Domestos and see how lives are changing for the better in South Africa, read more here.
When you choose Unilever, you help to create a bright future.