#WorldToiletDay: Empowering Families to Improve Sanitation in India

Sunila Devi lives in Bihar, India. India is a country of 1.3 billion people, half of which don’t have access to a toilet. Without proper sanitation facilities, 600,000 people have no choice but to relieve themselves out in the open. “It was difficult going in the open. Other people keep coming and going,” Sunila says.

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How Small Changes in Nutrition Can Make a Big Difference

By Laila Jewayni, Program Coordinator for West and Central Africa, PSI Bibi takes a break from playing her favorite game “Snake and Ladder,” to talk to me.  The fabrics in her shop cover the three walls while the front overlooks the dirt road stretching through the busy market.  Neighbors poke their heads through the door

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Empowering Women and Teaching Healthy Habits in Nigeria

By Martha Bolanos, Unilever, Regional trade marketing manager, Customer Development, South America I am blessed to have been raised with so many mentors who guided and motivated me to embrace my talents. Now it’s time for me to give back and help other women and their families. A year ago, I applied to become a Unilever

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Fortune 500 Salutes PSI’s Corporate Partners

By Jenny Tolep, External Relations & Communications Fresh off the press — Fortune magazine just released the 2015 Fortune 500 list of top corporate companies and seven of PSI’s corporate partners made the list. Like all of PSI’s corporate partners, these companies are addressing global development challenges in ways that harness their core business skills

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Children as Ambassadors for Health in their Communities

Photo of the week

By Jenny Tolep It’s been said that children are our future. In Mombasa, Kenya, this serves true as school children become ambassadors for health, spreading knowledge about handwashing practices to their communities. PSI knows that when children learn healthy behaviors, they help pass on life-saving information to their families – setting off a powerful ripple

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Growing Health and Economic Opportunity in Haiti through Women Micro-Entrepreneurs

PSI and Unilever are teaming up once again to support achievement of MDGs and building stronger, healthier societies. By partnering with Haitian micro-finance organization Fonkoze, the three organizations aim to support communities across the country in their efforts to build a better future. This new partnership combines the strengths of the three organizations: Unilever’s health and hygiene

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Soap will Save Lives, Brands will Increase Use

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Brands might not sound like something that matters for global health. With the approaching Super Bowl, brands are thought of the things that come up with clever commercials to entertain and sell products.

However, that is exactly why they are important when it comes to behavior change, says Sami Singh, Global Brand Vice President for Unilever-Lifebouy. He argues that brands are what grab attention and get people to take action. For example, handwashing is a simple and important way to improve the health of everyone, especially children. Just like Coca Cola and Pepsi will compete to make their cola look cool, soaps should appeal to the everyday consumer.

Then, people will want to buy and use the soap. It is the brand that will help affect change. The soap matters a whole lot, but it has to literally get into the hands of people if it is to have an impact.

That is where brands can make a difference.

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Unilever’s Project Sunlight Is a Solid Approach at Corporate Social Responsibility

By C. Montague Hermann, Social Marketing TA; PSI/Somaliland

It is very difficult to create a corporate social responsibility (CSR) platform that feels genuine. Unilever, one of the world’s largest producers of consumer packaged goods, has recently launched its Project Sunrise and struggles with this very issue. The core of the campaign is to draw attention to global issues of sustainability, such as protecting the environment, improving the quality of nutrition for millions of children, and providing safe drinking water to millions of people around the world.

To do that, Unilever is trying to link these “big world issues” with the way they are changing the production and sourcing of their products, in addition to the commitments they have made to helping solve some of these big world issues. As Marc Mathieu, SVP of Marketing at Unilever puts it:

People find it hard to engage with big global issues like climate change, but if we can help people relate ‘the big world issues’ to the everyday lives of their children and families, we think that people will see the possibilities in the small changes that they can make towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

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Handwashing with soap to help a child reach five years old

TV Asia USA covered the Help a Child Reach 5 campaign event featuring PSI, Unilever, Lifebouy soap and the Millennium Villages Project. Watch experts and advocates, including our CEO Karl Hofmann describe the importance of children reaching their fifth birthday and how handwashing with soap can make a difference.

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Handwashing: The Power is in Your Hands

1395802_719755098051867_1473274820_nMillions of people around the world will celebrate the lifesaving impact of handwashing, tomorrow. Global Handwashing Day will mobilize youth in schools and adults in community spaces to practice handwashing with soap.

Celebrated annually, this year’s Global Handwashing Day is marked with the theme “The Power is in Your Hands.” The ability to reduce illness caused by poor hygiene lies in the hands of every person around the world. It is even more important for young children. Handwashing alone can cut into the 5,000 children that die every day from pneumonia and diarrhea.

It is for this reason that countless events will take place in over 100 countries on October 15 to celebrate  handwashing with soap. For example, the Pan-American Health Organizations (PAHO) in Latin America  and the Children’s Global Hygiene Foundation in Australia will both attempt to set Guinness World  Records for the most number of people washing their hands at the same time.

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Saving Lives Through the Power of Soap

photo(New York) – Handwashing with soap saves lives. It is really that simple agree leaders from the private, NGO and academic spheres at an event this morning. As a child dies every fifteen seconds around the world, the time is now to bring solutions that save lives to scale.

“The cost of inaction is higher than the cost of action,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever.

Polman was joined by economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, PSI CEO Karl Hofmann and Indian actress Kajol. The four called attention to the way that partnerships can accelerate programs like handwashing so that more lives are saved.

Unilever’s Lifebouy soap brand partners with PSI to run handwashing education programs in Kenya. A similar partnership with Sachs’s Millennium Villages Program further increases the reach and impact of handwashing.

“The 2008 crisis showed that while many people improved their lives, many were still left behind,” said Polman.

Lifebuoy’s Help A Child Reach 5 campaign aims to eradicate preventable deaths from diseases like diarrhea one village at a time, by teaching lifesaving handwashing habits. Hofmann praised the marketing abilities and reach of Unilever. He said that PSI was initially interested in learning from Unilever to improve PSI’s social marketing. The formal partnership that later developed showed just how NOGs can work with the private sector.

“As we look at the burden of disease, there’s naturally an overlap with the consumer goods marketing done by Unilever,” he said.

The idea was put into action when Lifebuoy launched its Help a Child Reach 5 handwashing campaign in Thesgora, a village in Madhya Pradesh with one of the highest rates of diarrhea in India. Lifebuoy has committed to teach Thesgora and the surrounding five villages the importance of handwashing at the five key occasions – and to help them sustain this habit. The initiative will increase the practice of handwashing with soap among children and therefore reduce the disease burden of child diarrhea.

Unilever Panel

Early results are exciting. The 6,000 people reached helped decrease the diarrhea incidence rate from 42% to 11% in a matter of six months. The next step will be to bring the program to the rest of the state and eventually all of India. Achieving that can be done through partnerships.

“Governments can find it hard to engage with programs that involve behavior change. Hygiene is an area which has been often overlooked. No business, government or UN agency can achieve the agreed reduction of child mortality alone, but by working together we can combine the expertise, resources and policy needed to achieve real change,” said Polman at the UN yesterday.

By working with Indian actress Kajol, Lifebouy hopes to reach more people. She described how simple it is for people to wash soap with their hands. Being a mother, she described a motivation to ensure that all children in India are able to survive and thrive.

Handwashing is working, they all agreed. Fewer kids are getting sick and fewer kids are dying. With the expiration of the MDGs around the corner, we must keep pressure up to include Water Sanitation and Hygiene in the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Polman said he did not believe that handwashing will be a goal itself Post-2015, but was optimistic that it can be a key part of improving health and ensuring that fewer children die each year.

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