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Durban, 5 August 2015 – Global FMCG giant Unilever’s South African subsidiary today entered into a partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund South Africa Country Office (UNICEF) to support national efforts for the improvement of the health and well-being of children in South African schools.

Through its household care brand, Domestos, Unilever, in partnership with UNICEF, aims to promote behaviour change related to hygiene and sanitation practices, and strengthen the capacity of school as well as education professionals in South Africa.

A partnership agreement was signed between Unilever and UNICEF today, reinforcing a collective mission, to help mitigate the impact of the spread of germs and provide access to clean and safe toilets.

A three-month campaign, from August to October 2015, will help UNICEF to rally resources towards this goal. Therefore, five percent of the proceeds of every bottle of Domestos sold will be donated to UNICEF’s sanitation programmes in schools in the country.

Peter Cowan, Chairman of Unilever SA, noted that  “germs can lead to life- threatening diseases. This is why Unilever, through its Domestos brand, wants to support UNICEF financially in its fight to help children across the world survive and thrive. At Unilever, we believe that business has a responsibility to contribute to  systematic change as building a better society goes hand-in-hand with building a more sustainable business.

“Our Sustainable Living Plan is Unilever’s roadmap to doubling the size of our business while reducing our environmental impact and delivering increased social value. Our plan has three big goals, one of which is helping more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.”

Unicef representative to South Africa, Mr Herve Ludovic de Lys , said “Public-private partnerships are crucial to advancing the agenda for children. Only a focused, collective effort will ensure that even more children and young people in South Africa benefit from improvements in sanitation access and services”, noted Mr de Lys.

“Globally Unilever is working with UNICEF to improve sanitation in developing countries through UNICEF's Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) initiative, a behaviour change programme that promotes good hygiene practices, helps create demand for access to toilets, and raises awareness of the sanitation crisis. By investing in sanitation at a community level, this partnership helps us demonstrate the key role of the private sector."

In South Africa, the Unilever/UNICEF partnership has reached over 75 000 children in 243 schools with health and hygiene education. These programmes help to ensure children practice good hygiene at school, thus leading to fewer sick days and more children staying in school, resulting in an improved learning environment. In an atmosphere of poor health, children are unable to fulfil their educational potential, due to absenteeism, poor concentration and lack of personal dignity.

Justin Apsey, Vice-President Brand Building Home & Surface Care, Unilever SA, pointed out that an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide lacked access to improved sanitation, and one billion people have no sanitation facilities at all and have to practise open defecation.  

“Thus we have embarked on a cause-marketing campaign whereby every bottle of Domestos that is bought to destroy germs will help UNICEF to change a life when improvements in sanitation are made. The Domestos/UNICEF partnership aims to help reduce the number of people who do not have access to basic sanitation.”

Apsey said while attendance rates were high among scholars in underprivileged communities in comparison to other developing countries, it remained evident that poor sanitation facilities were a major contributing factor to the school dropout rate.

“A lack of health and hygiene awareness coupled with inadequate sanitation facilities and infrastructure impact negatively on the health of the community and ultimately the environment. Healthy sanitation at schools is often overshadowed by other issues, but proper toilet facilities play a very big role in making sure children are in class each and every day”.  

Realizing that the state of sanitation won’t change overnight, Domestos embarked on a school toilet refurbishment project in South Africa in 2010 so that learners no longer have to skip lessons because of substandard sanitation. 

Since then 24 schools have received new toilets as part of Domestos’ Brighter Future Campaign.