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UNICEF and Unilever unite to improve access to safe water in Africa


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Nairobi / Dakar – UNICEF and Unilever today announced a partnership to improve access to safe water in countries across sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership will focus first on four countries: Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

Woman getting water from a tap

The new agreement includes financial investment as well as strategic engagement with government and civil society. It aims to implement innovative community and school-based programmes to promote sustainable management of safe water and also to improve hygiene and handwashing practices.

“Africa’s population is surging and access to safe drinking water remains a serious problem for present and future generations,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala. “Over the next two years, this partnership will not only ensure children and communities have access to safe drinking water, but that it is sustainable and scalable across the continent.”

Bruno Witvoet, President Unilever Africa, said: “At Unilever we want our brands to make a difference to the lives of the people of Africa, but the scale of challenges such as providing safe water go far beyond what any organisation, public or private can do alone. This partnership will draw on the joint expertise, resources and networks of both UNICEF and Unilever, to magnify our efforts so we improve the quality of life for ordinary people and help Africa meet the Sustainable Development Goals."

In Kenya, one-in-three people lack access to safe drinking water, while in Nigeria at least 150,000 children below five years of age die every year as a result of diarrhea, and 70 million people lack access to improved water sources. In Côte d’Ivoire, 90% of schools and health care centres lack access to improved water supplies. In Ghana, over two million people use water from unsafe sources.

Despite unfavorable conditions, the potential to improve the situation for children is real. Due to the achievements realised through the Millennium Development Goals, an additional 47,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa now have access to safe drinking water every day, an increase of 20% compared to 25 years ago. The Unilever-UNICEF partnership seeks to demonstrate scalable water management models that deliver results and drives further investment in this critical area for the continent.

UNICEF and Unilever began collaborating in 2012 under a global partnership to address the sanitation crisis.

We want our brands to make a difference to the lives of the people of Africa

Bruno Witvoet, President Unilever Africa

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