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Kimberly-Clark Engages Local Entrepreneurs to Combat Global Sanitation Crisis

Local school children in Mapeop village, Bobonaro, Timor-Leste helped build their own safe, clean toilet with support from UNICEF. | Image credit: Simon Nazer/UNICEF EAPRO

Increasing access to clean, safe and sustainable sanitation to 10 million people by 2022 is a top priority for personal care corporation Kimberly-Clark’s Sustainability 2022 goals, and on November 19, World Toilet Day, the company renewed its commitment to its Toilets Change Lives program, a multi-national commercial program that leverages the power of its well-known brands to educate and engage consumers and help solve the global sanitation crisis.

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated World Toilet Day to raise awareness and inspire efforts to tackle the global sanitation crisis. A lack of basic sanitation affects more than 2.4 billion people around the world, making ‘access to water and sanitation for all’ an important platform for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Poor sanitation currently affects children’s ability to attend school because of the spread of life-threatening diseases and infection. And millions of girls miss school every month because menstruation becomes too hard to manage without access to proper facilities.

Access to safe, clean sanitation facilities should be a basic human right,” said Mauricio Troncoso, vice president and managing director of Western Europe for Kimberly-Clark Corporation. “The nature of our business gives us a unique understanding of sanitation and toilets, and the opportunity to improve and change lives for the better.”

Since its inception in 2014, the Toilets Change Lives program has helped improve access to sanitation to approximately 300,000 people in need. Several Kimberly-Clark brands, including Andrex, Scott and Neve, have partnered with key retailers in 10 countries to sell special promotional packs that help support potentially life-saving programs through donations to NGOs such as UNICEF, Water for People and WaterAid.

Kimberly-Clark has also established the Toilet Board Coalition, a business led public-private partnership, is working to solve the global sanitation crisis. Now in its fourth year, its members are multi-national corporations, development experts, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and social investors who share a joint vision and mission to support and accelerate commercially sustainable business models dedicated to building smart, sustainable sanitation systems for the future while delivering sanitation to all.

With the help of Kimberly-Clark leaders with a wide variety of skills from marketing, sales, finance, research, logistics and human resources, the Toilet Board Coalition is providing access to innovation and support for business processes that help entrepreneurs focus on a common goal — to provide sustainable access to a proper toilet.

“This model works because it’s about mutual benefit. Kimberly-Clark can gain so much from working with entrepreneurial young businesses,” added Troncoso, who also was recently named chairman for the Toilet Board Coalition. “Thus far, we’ve been given direct insight into consumer behavior and we’ve been greatly inspired by the enthusiasm and drive of our mentees. And at the same time, we can help provide the expertise that will get growing businesses over the start line, to start solving the issue for good.”

Toilets Change Lives recent work includes a partnership with Charities Aid Foundation India to address the issue of open defecation through work to provide clean, safe toilets in schools and early child development centers. Additionally, the company is creating a sustainable market-driven model in partnership with the Toilet Board Coalition and Svadha, a sanitation focused social enterprise. The program trains villagers to become ‘Sani-preneurs’ who can build and sell toilets. This holistic approach, which galvanizes both demand and supply of toilets, aims to bring a sustainable solution to open defecation in India.

“We’re asking our consumers and our employees to purchase our products, share posts and stories through social media to enable contributions, or consider donating to support the cause,” said Lisa Morden, Global Sustainability direct for Kimberly-Clark. “Through our Sustainability 2022 strategy, we hope to improve the social and physical well-being of people in need around the world, and make a lasting difference that realizes our company’s purpose of making lives better.” 


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