By Claire West

Unilever and the Earth Institute today announced a new initiative to bring handwashing with soap — a lifesaving habit — to the Millennium Villages, a project that works with nearly 500,000 people in rural villages, across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in New York today on the fifth anniversary of Global Handwashing Day.


The partnership supports Unilever’s goal to deliver on one of its commitments under its Sustainable Living Plan — to help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.

Over the past two years, Unilever has successfully changed the handwashing behaviour of 50 million people in Africa and South-Asia, through its leading soap brand Lifebuoy and partnerships with Population Services International (PSI) and UNICEF established through the Unilever Foundation.

Paul Polman, Unilever CEO said: “The big issues the world is facing require new approaches, new business models and new partnerships. Responsible businesses must take a more active leadership role.
The MOU with the Earth Institute partnering Lifebuoy with the Millennium Villages Project is one such example where working together will enhance our expertise of addressing hygiene in deep rural Africa and enable us to develop more effective solutions to reduce child mortality.”