UNICEF: Sanitation for All


Today 2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. While improving access to basic sanitation for more and more people has been made over the past 16 years, some regions and countries are not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of the population who do not have access to basic sanitation by 2015.

unicef-girls-caption-125Access to basic sanitation

Despite the best intentions, previous programmes 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 do not stimulate demand for toilets.

As a result, families can fail to understand the link between open defecation and poor health.

Community Approaches to Total Sanitation

The Unilever Foundation and UNICEF are partnering to improve sanitation in developing countries through UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) initiative.

CATS aims to promote demand for sanitation at the community level. With support from the Unilever Foundation, UNICEF will expand its reach of CATS through three core elements:

  • Triggering: Creates a demand for toilets through mobilising the community to a point of self- realisation, disgust and pride about the state of open defecation.

  • Behaviour Change: Stopping open defecation out of a sense of responsibility and concern for both oneself and the community.

  • Promoting Sanitation: Promoting mainstream behaviour through mass media and messaging in schools and health centres.


The Unilever Foundation will contribute towards CATS’ goal of achieving 100% open defecation free communities – those where families are using their own toilets and hand washing facilities.

Additionally, we will be supporting other related Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (‘WASH’) initiatives in select countries where CATS is not active.

Unilever is also working with UNICEF on disaster and emergency relief in Pakistan and the Horn of Africa.

More information about our partnership with UNICEF will be shared here as it becomes available.