The management of Unilever has announced a commitment to help 25 million people gain improved access to toilets by 2020, as part of its Sustainable Living Plan, a blueprint for sustainable growth.

wpid-unilever.jpgA statement issued in Accra and signed by Mr Gaberial Opoku-Asare, the Corporate Affairs Manager, Unilever Ghana, said as part of their activities, the company would contribute to the goal of helping one billion people to improve their health and well-being by 2020.

It said management had also set alongside existing goals on providing access to safe and affordable drinking water, and education on the importance of hand-washing with soap.

It said an estimated 2.5 billion people, over one third of the world?s population, lives without access to adequate sanitation, of these, over one billion continued to defecate in the open.

The statement said the situation had a serious impact on people?s health, nutrition, education, on gender equality and sustainable economic development.

“It is a global tragedy that a child dies of diseases related to poor sanitation every two minutes and it could be prevented,” it added.

Mr Paul Polman, the Chief Executive Officer, Unilever, said business could and must be part of the solution in addressing global challenges that affect the world.

“That is why we introduced the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to positively contribute to the societies where we operate. 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,” he added.

This target would be delivered by Unilever?s toilet cleaning brand, Domestos and the Unilever Foundation, by scaling up existing partnership programmes.

It said Domestos and the Unilever Foundation were working with UNICEF to change sanitation behaviours and empower communities to become free of open defecation.

The statement said Domestos had was also partnered with social enterprise eKutir, to deliver market-based models that enable entrepreneurs to set up local sanitation businesses in rural areas.

It also runs school programmes with locally-based Non-governmental organisations, which improve school facilities and educate the next generation of children on the importance of sanitation and hygiene.

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.

Domestos is working with other leading organisations including DFID, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, WaterAid, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and World Toilet Organization among others.

Mr Jean-Laurent Ingles, Senior Vice President for Household Care, Uniliver said ?Our commitment is the natural next step for Domestos?.

?Domestos aims to ?kill germs for good? ? that?s why we?re working to provide access to clean and safe toilets for people worldwide. Our commitment is about more than Corporate Social Responsibility.

It said Unilever believed that universal access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene was essential to helping lift people out of poverty and advocated for a standalone goal on Water and Sanitation in the post-2015 Development Agenda.

Without access to clean, safe toilets, affordable drinking water, and the adoption of basic hygiene practices such as hand-washing with soap, too many people around the world will continue to die from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea.



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