Unlocking transformational change through partnerships

We are committed to helping more than a billion people improve their health, hygiene and nutrition - and partnerships play a vital role.

Woman in a doorway in rural Africa

People all over the world face challenges to their health and well-being. Lack of access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation, poor hygiene, and hunger leave millions of people trapped in a debilitating cycle of ill health and diminished prospects, such as missed education and limited productivity.

We believe business has a critical role to play in addressing these global development challenges. Given our expertise in consumer behaviour change, our global reach, and our portfolio of health, hygiene and nutrition products, we are uniquely positioned to make a real difference.

Social purpose is at the heart of our business model, and we can both grow our business and drive the type of transformational change needed for a brighter future. However, achieving systemic and scalable change requires us to work in partnership with others who share our vision for a better world. Working with NGOs, UN agencies, civil society, and businesses, we believe that we can achieve Unilever’s ambition to help more than 1 billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.

Transforming people's health and hygiene through WASH

For millions of people around the world, lack of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) can result in preventable diseases and sometimes death. For example, almost 1,000 children under five per day die from diarrhoeal diseases, while others are negatively impacted by related conditions such as stunting. 

As part of our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (‘USLP’), we are working towards improving the health and wellbeing of more than 1 billion people. Together with our partners, we have helped to foster improved health and hygiene behaviours, which have resulted in fewer individuals defecating in the open, more people washing their hands with soap at key moments, and more people having access to safe drinking water. 

Lifebuoy, Pureit, Domestos, Signal, and Knorr, together with their partners, have helped nearly millions of people improve their health, hygiene, and nutrition by the end of 2015. 

Additionally, we have helped to create new business models that have fostered innovation, enhanced the livelihoods of local entrepreneurs, and increased demand for our products. These partnerships are instrumental to helping us deliver on our USLP commitments.

Providing frontline healing

There are many other ways in which our brands can have a positive impact on society through partnerships, while simultaneously contributing to Unilever’s business growth.

Vaseline®, for example, has embarked on a mission in partnership with Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organisation dedicated to improving the health and lives of people affected by poverty and emergency situations. Through our partnership, The Vaseline® Healing Project, we aim to help heal the skin of 5 million people by 2020.

For people living in areas of crisis or disaster, the simplest skin conditions can turn into serious issues that make it hard to do the most basic everyday things. According to a survey by Direct Relief, 67% of health workers on the frontline say that preventable skin conditions keep people from doing ordinary things like attending work or school.

In an effort to bring dermatological care to these individuals, Vaseline® is drawing on its more than 140 years of expertise in keeping skin healthy - and the Vaseline® Healing Project harnesses the scale and trusted capability of the brand to help those who need it. The Vaseline® Healing Project has donated over 1 million Vaseline® products to individuals through Direct Relief’s partner network of clinics and hospitals worldwide.

Additionally, the Vaseline® Healing Project is deploying skin health training to local health care workers and sending teams of dermatologists and doctors on medical missions equipped with medicines, supplies and Vaseline® products. In 2015, the Vaseline® Healing Project’s missions reached individuals afflicted by natural disasters, as well those living in refugee camps and rural areas.

The Vaseline® Healing Project also invites mainstream consumers to make a difference by building relief kits to help individuals in need.

1. Based on an internal survey of 127 of Direct Relief’s partner clinics, across 39 countries globally

The global challenge: in numbers

2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation1

805 million people go hungry every day2

663 million people lack access to an improved drinking water source3

443 million school days are lost each year through lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene4

More than 340,000 children under five die annually from diarrhoeal diseases due to poor sanitation, poor hygiene, or unsafe drinking water5

Our health & well-being targets for 2020
  • Help change the hygiene behaviour of 1 billion people by promoting the benefits of handwashing with soap at key times
  • Help 25 million people gain improved access to a toilet
  • Provide 150 billion litres of safe drinking water
  • Help hundreds of millions of people to enjoy great food and achieve healthier diets
  • Help heal the skin of 5 million people living in vulnerable conditions by the year 2020.

1World Health Organization, Lack of sanitation for 2.4 billion people is undermining health improvements, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/jmp-report/en/ 

2World Food Programme, Hunger Statistics, https://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats

3WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme Report 2015, Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water, http://www.wssinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/resources/JMP-Update-report-2015_English.pdf

4The World Bank, Sanitation: Facts, Figures, Resources, http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/sanitation/brief/sanitation-facts-figures-resources

5WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme Report 2015, Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water, http://www.wssinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/resources/JMP-Update-report-2015_English.pdf

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