The Domestos & Unicef Partnership

The issue

There are still an estimated 2.5 billion people around the world who do not have access to improved sanitation - that’s two fifths (37%) of the global population.1 Access to improved sanitation has been deemed a basic human right by the United Nations. Without it, people are at risk of sanitation borne diseases, like diarrhoea, which kills around 2,000 children under five every day.2

The partnership

The Unilever Foundation and Domestos have joined forces with UNICEF to help improve access to basic sanitation for hundreds of thousands of people in areas that need it most.

By supporting UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) programme, the Unilever Foundation and Domestos aim to improve the health and well-being of those in need and create sustainable approaches to improved sanitation through programmes that promote good hygiene practices, improve the health and well-being of communities, help create demand for access to toilets and raise awareness of the sanitation crisis.

Support is also provided to resource other efforts that include WASH-related programmes, school-based total sanitation and policy and advocacy on the sanitation crisis.

As part of this partnership, Domestos is giving its consumers the opportunity to help improve access to basic sanitation through contributing 5% of its average proceeds* received from the sale of specially marked bottles of Domestos in select countries to support UNICEF’s CATS programmes in the Philippines, South Sudan, and Vietnam and will also go towards providing resources to advance efforts to improve sanitation in India, Indonesia and Brazil. Countries participating in the retail partnership are Poland, UK, Ireland, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Philippines and Romania (from July-September 2013) and France (from September-October 2013). Brazil will also participate in the cause-related marketing activities, although dates are to be confirmed.

The progress made so far

In the first year of the partnership, this combined support from the Unilever Foundation and Domestos will result in an estimated 600,000 people living in open defecation free communities as a result of the support of CATS in Gambia, Ghana, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan and Vietnam.

Additionally, UNICEF has made great strides in helping to improve the health and well-being of people who have been exposed to CATS with support from the Unilever Foundation and / or Domestos.

Some of the activities and related progress achieved to date are:

  • Partnering with national Governments, support has been provided to build institutional and community level capacity for sanitation programmes. For example, in Vietnam, 600 community and local Government workers have been trained on how to implement community and school led sanitation programmes.
  • In Sudan, over 200 village committee members have been trained on operation and maintenance of sanitation and water facilities.
  • Across nine countries, over a thousand villages have undergone ‘triggering’, a technique designed to help people understand the link between open defecation and disease and to stimulate communities to take action. As a result, for instance, 78 communities in Ghana have now been declared open defecation free, while in Gambia, 100 villages have achieved open defecation free status. South Sudan held its first ever open defecation free village celebration in 2012 and is making good progress on expanding the programme.
  • Schoolchildren are being reached with sanitation, safe water and hygiene facilities in Ghana, Nicaragua and Sudan.
  • Efforts to build local capacity to provide sanitation products and services are underway in Gambia, South Sudan, Sudan, Pakistan, Philippines and Vietnam. For example, 150 local masons have been trained on latrine slab construction in Gambia. In Pakistan, model sanitation marts have been established, with almost 8,000 demonstration latrines constructed.
  • Innovative approaches are being applied in a number of countries – for example, in Nigeria CATS is linked to nutrition programmes, using the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition centres as an entry point with communities. And in both Pakistan and the Philippines, the programmes are working in flood-prone areas to reach those in greatest need.

Improving sanitation around the world is a huge challenge; at current rates of progress, it is unlikely that the world will meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal ('MDG') sanitation target by 2015.3 The MDG sanitation target represents one of eight targets to help improve the quality of life for the world’s poorest people.

However, your small actions can make a big difference in helping to bring sanitation to those in need. You can help by:

Jean Laurent-Ingles, Global Brands Vice President Household Care, Unilever

"Domestos has a mission – a safe and germ-free toilet for all. We realise that through the simple act of improving sanitation facilities in developing countries, we can help improve the health of hundreds of thousands of people. Furthermore, by improving toilets we can reduce the number of school days lost each year to sickness and reduce the risks that women encounter when they are forced to do their business in a public place because of not having a toilet in their home. This is part of our brand’s contribution to improving health and is a natural progression from our heritage of protecting families from germs for over 80 years.

Together with UNICEF we set ourselves the target of changing the behaviour of 400,000 people to enable them to live in open defecation free communities within the first year of this campaign. Within the first year we will have achieved 150% of our target, with on-the-ground programmes resulting in 600,000 people living in open defecation free communities. Our partnership is now entering its second year, and we will be scaling up our work to reach more communities affected by poor sanitation in order to improve the health and wellbeing of more mothers and their children.”

Therese Dooley, Senior Adviser Sanitation and Hygiene, UNICEF

"No mother would forgive themselves if they thought some of the practices they were doing were actually compromising their child’s health.

In many countries mums don't even have to think about protecting their child from faeces because her home has access to water based systems. When anyone flushes the toilet - waste is just gone. But in the developing world, living environments have a lot of faeces - animal and human. However, it's often the case that mothers are unaware of the link between faeces and their child's health. They don't realise that germs from faeces can reach their child and cause diseases like diarrhoea. If they did, they would jump at the chance of removing that danger and would do something about it. Through CATS we're not telling communities what they should do to improve sanitation; we're stimulating the realisation of the link between hygiene in the home and elimination of open defecation to improved health.

We are grateful for the contribution Domestos has made to the UNICEF CATS programmes in Vietnam and South Sudan. The funding has made an enormous impact on our programmes and more people are being reached and living in Open Defecation Free communities as a direct result. Lives are being changed, children are happy and healthy, and the future is positive for all concerned.

We are looking forward to expanding the programme in year two to work in a total of six countries, which means that more children and their families can be reached with sanitation and hygiene improvements. So it’s looking really positive and we can’t wait to start!”


1. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme: Progress on sanitation and drinking-water (2010)
2. UNICEF/WHO 2011. Levels and trends in Child Mortality. Report 2011. Estimates Developed by the UN inter-agency group on child mortality.
3. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme: Progress on drinking water and sanitation: 2012 Update

*UNICEF does not endorse any brand or product. Domestos supports UNICEF. For every Domestos bleach product purchased with the promotional neck hanger in the UK, Unilever gives 2 pence to UNICEF (exchange rate source: UN Treasury, Feb 2012),guaranteeing a minimum of £819,731 worldwide, during the period of 1st July to 30th September 2012. UNICEF UK Registered Charity No: 1072612

*For every specially marked Domestos bleach product purchased, Unilever gives to UNICEF (exchange rate source: UN Treasury, Feb 2013):
During the period 1st July to 31st September 2013:
- In the UK, 3 pence per bottle. UNICEF UK Registered Charity No: 1072612
- In the Republic of Ireland, €0.03 per bottle. UNICEF Ireland Registered Charity No: 5616.
- In Poland, 0,21 Zloty per bottle
- In Vietnam, 808.83 VND per bottle
- In India, 2.97 India Rupee per bottle
- In Indonesia, 525.81 Indonesia Rupiah per bottle
- In Philippines, 3.14 Philippine Peso per bottle
- In Romania, 0.21 Romanian Leu per bottle
During the period 1st September to 31st October 2013:
- In France, €0.10 per bottle
In Brazil, CRM activities are TBC

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