Partnership creating a brighter future for women in Nigeria

A new partnership in Nigeria between Unilever Foundation, PSI and the Society for Family Health (SFH) is aiming to improve the health and wellbeing of women in rural communities.

Changing behaviours, improving habits

Foundation Ambassador Martha Bolanos

The initiative – called Sunlight Villages – is looking to reach 600,000 women of reproductive age with behaviour change messages related to nutrition, oral hygiene and handwashing with soap, as well as with SFH’s health products which include oral rehydration salts (ORS) and zinc tablets used to treat diarrhoea, one of the leading causes of death in children.

SFH develops behaviour change materials for local communities in collaboration with Unilever and trains interpersonal communication agents (IPCAs) to deliver door-to-door messages about healthy habits.

The IPCAs identify women of reproductive age in their community. Initially they focus on messages about handwashing with soap and the benefits of ORS and zinc. They then introduce the concepts of oral hygiene and nutrition. This allows messages to be focused and simple, and more likely to be remembered.

Empowering women

Women entrepreneurs who are part of our Gbemiga programme – which is similar to our Shakti programme in India – effectively follow the IPCAs through the communities selling a portfolio of Unilever and SFH products house to house. The Unilever products include fortified Knorr bouillon cubes and vitamin-enriched Blue Band margarine as well as Lifebuoy soap and Pepsodent toothpaste.

Foundation Ambassador Martha Bolanos, who was struck by the value of this partnership when she recently visited a Sunlight Village, says: “Every time we teach a mother about handwashing and good nutrition, and make sure they have access to our products, we are taking a step towards giving people a brighter future.”

Read more about Martha’s visit.

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