Unilever Lifebuoy campaign achieves dramatic results

London/Rotterdam/Mumbai - Unilever’s health soap Lifebuoy has announced the results of its ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ handwashing programmes launched in Thesgora, India, noting an overwhelming drop in the incidence of diarrhoea: from 36% to 5%1.

Pioneering campaign reduces diarrhea from 36% to 5%

The decrease in diarrhoea in this village – known for having one of the highest rates in India of this deadly yet preventable disease – was observed over the period of Lifebuoy’s intervention in an independent evaluation of 1485 households with children aged below 12 years, conducted by Nielsen in September 2013.

Lifebuoy’s ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ campaign aims to eradicate preventable deaths from diseases like diarrhoea through teaching lifesaving handwashing habits. The campaign was launched with an award winning film ”Gondappa” and handwashing initiatives in Thesgora, a village in Madhya Pradesh.

The results achieved show that handwashing programmes have significant positive impact on both the handwashing behaviours and the health of a community. Lifebuoy’s handwashing programmes are now being rolled out to villages across 14 countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda and Vietnam) and scaled up in India to reach 45 million people.

Download an infographic (PDF | 354KB) of the results of the handwashing campaign.

This adds to the ambitious goal of Unilever to help more than a billion people improve their hygiene habits by 2015. On 28 April this year, the Unilever Sustainable Living Report 2013 will be published, and it will confirm that Unilever has reached around 303 million people through its programmes of handwashing, safe drinking water, oral health and self-esteem.

Sustainable growth

Unilever’s health soap brand, Lifebuoy, puts its social purpose at the heart of its innovation and engagement with consumers. Lifebuoy’s handwashing programmes are not only helping to change habits to combat disease – expert studies have shown that washing hands with soap at critical moments during the day can dramatically cut the incidence of life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea. They are also driving volume growth in key markets. Lifebuoy has achieved three years of double-digit growth to become the world’s number one anti-bacterial brand.

Samir Singh, Lifebuoy’s Global Brand Vice President, explains, “Lifebuoy’s ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ campaign has demonstrated excellent results in Thesgora and we will now be scaling up this campaign globally. To date, Lifebuoy has impacted the handwashing behaviours of 183 million people in 14 countries and the results of our efforts so far prove that when a social mission is embedded into a successful brand’s core values, significant and indeed lifesaving change can happen fast.”

Worldwide, one child dies from diarrhoea or pneumonia every 15 seconds, amounting to 2.1 million deaths each year. Handwashing with soap is the most cost-effective way to prevent child deaths and contribute to Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4) towards reducing child mortality. The simple but lifesaving act of handwashing with soap could help many more children reach the age of five.

More than 2.5 billion people still lack effective sanitation, good hygiene and safe drinking water. Tackling these issues can achieve a big impact on the diseases that cause ill health and cost lives. To achieve better health outcomes and lower costs Unilever will try to address all three together. Unilever has leading brands – Lifebuoy, Pureit and Domestos – that can make a difference in these three areas.

Next to the 183 million people reached by Lifebuoy’s handwashing programmes, Pureit is providing safe drinking water to 55 million people. Both brands have worked closely with others such as PSI, a Unilever Foundation partner. Domestos and the Unilever Foundation are partnering with UNICEF to scale up its Community Approaches to Total Sanitation programme.

1 Hindustan Unilever Ltd. claim based on research conducted by Nielsen, [September 2013, 1485 households across 11 villages (6 Test and 5 Control), Households with children aged below 12 years]

Unilever PLC

Unilever House
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0DY
United Kingdom


Unilever NV

Weena 455
3013AL Rotterdam


+31 (0) 10 217 4000

Marc Potma

+31 (0)10 217 3715
+31 (0)10 217 3715

Sophie Green

+44 208 8706777

Explore more on these topics:

Back to top

Connect with us

We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.

Contact us

Get in touch with Unilever and specialist teams in our headquarters, or find contacts around the world.

Contact us