By: Laura De Santis Bernasconi, UNICEF
About 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation. Of these, almost half have no sanitation facilities at all and practice open defecation. In 2012, Domestos and the Unilever Foundation joined forces with UNICEF to help improve access to basic sanitation for hundreds of thousands of people by supporting UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) program.
CATS is a behavior change program which promotes good hygiene practices, helps create demand for access to toilets and raises awareness of the sanitation crisis. Through the use of simple and effective demonstrations which explain the link between open defecation and disease, families make the decision to change their sanitation practices.
Previous programs that were based on the charitable donation of toilets to communities, or those solely focused on toilet construction, have failed to make a lasting impact because they did not stimulate demand community for toilets. Through the partnership with Domestos and the Unilever Foundation, UNICEF will be able to achieve greater scale and impact in changing social norms by explaining the link between open defecation and disease, giving communities the knowledge and motivation to construct and use toilets and create open defecation free communities. In the first year, these programs will result in an estimated 400,000 people living in open defecation free communities.
Domestos is committed to improve sanitation around the world by using its global reach to inform consumers about the sanitation crisis through a cause-marketing campaign. During the agreed upon promotional period, Domestos contributes five per cent of its average proceeds from the sale of specially marked bottles of Domestos in selected countries.
The Unilever Foundation is also partnering with UNICEF to support CATS programs, as part of the Foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life through the provision of hygiene, sanitation, access to clean drinking water, basic nutrition and enhancing self-esteem. Additionally, the Foundation is partnering with UNICEF on WASH-related programs, advocacy and communications, and continues to provide support of disaster and emergency relief efforts.
Funds from Domestos and the Unilever Foundation are currently supporting CATS programs in nine countries across the world including: Gambia, Ghana, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan and Vietnam.
UNICEF works with many local, national and international level partners, including government and civil society in the countries where CATS is underway. Unilever, through the Domestos brand, is the first global corporate partner to support Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) program through a cause-marketing program.
The launch of this global partnership with Unilever marks a further significant phase in an on-going strategic collaboration intended to make a lasting contribution towards improving the lives of children. In 2004, UNICEF signed an agreement with Unilever to work together towards making a measurable difference to childhood mortality by 2015, by co-investing in programming in WASH and Nutrition.
For further information please contact Laura De Santis Bernasconi, UNICEF Geneva.