DALLAS (News release) -- Two billion people around the world lack access to basic sanitation. Without proper facilities, women must wait all day for the cover of darkness for privacy and safety just to relieve themselves, children can succumb to life-threatening, sanitation-borne diseases, and millions of girls miss school because menstruation becomes too hard to manage.
Five years ago, Kimberly-Clark took action to improve sanitation and engage consumers in the sanitation crisis through the launch of a program named "Toilets Change Lives," which united the company's global brands through nonprofit partnerships, consumer education and on-the-ground sanitation work. Toilets Change Lives has touched 16 countries and impacted 1.5 million people in need.
"The global sanitation crisis stands in the way of health, safety and dignity for billions of people," said Rishi Dhingra, Vice President of Family Care for Kimberly-Clark. "We know that providing access to toilets or hygiene education can change the future of entire communities and, as we celebrate five years, we do so with our eyes to the future. There is much work yet to be done."
Toilets Change Lives launched with the company's Andrex brand in 2014, growing into a large-scale multi-national commercial program incorporated by other Kimberly-Clark family brands around the world, including Neve, Scott, Suave and Baby Soft.
This year, Toilets Change Lives provided resources in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Honduras, Guatemala and South Africa to bring sanitation services, access to clean drinking water, and hygiene education in partnership with its customers and NGOs, including Water For People and WaterAid.
Employees like Ramzy Elftesi, Senior Brand Manager for Andrex and Toilets Change Lives campaign leader, have been critical links to creating consumer breakthrough and education around the global sanitation crisis.
"Consumers want to be involved, they just need the opportunity," said Elftesi. "Being able to dedicate my time to a campaign that is positively changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh, whilst also delivering strong results for Andrex has been a fantastic experience."
Andrex and WaterAid partnered to tell the story of Sanjida, a young girl from Bangladesh, through an animated short film showing how her life has been positively impacted by gaining access to safe, clean toilets which have been built in her community. Each animated frame was hand-painted on more than 600 rolls of Andrex toilet tissue to illustrate how consumers can 'change the story with every roll'.
Kimberly-Clark co-founded the Toilet Board Coalition in 2015. The organization is composed of public companies, government and advocacy groups to fund, support and foster local entrepreneurs around the world who are addressing sanitation in a sustainable way.
This week, a delegation of Kimberly-Clark leaders will join hundreds of sanitation leaders in Pune, India to discuss investment, innovation and the integration of menstrual hygiene management into the larger sanitation vision.
"What some people see as unaffordable public cost, the Toilet Board Coalition sees an untapped business opportunity," said Dhingra. "As we look to the future, this is the mindset and framework we need to find a sustainable way to solve world's sanitation crisis and ensure no one is left behind."
The United Nations General Assembly officially designated World Toilet Day in 2013 to raise awareness and inspire efforts to tackle the global sanitation crisis. A lack of basic sanitation affects an estimated 2 billion people around the world, making 'access to water and sanitation for all' an important platform for the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
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