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Department of Water Affairs and Forestry - Chief Directorate: Communication Services

Viva Water Pure and Clean

Viva Forests Rich and Green

KASRILS LAUNCHES SCHOOL WASH PROGRAMME WITH UNILEVER CEO Thursday 16 October 2003 A major initiative that will have a life-long impact on the nation’s health launches at the Morekolodi Primary School in Mmakau, near Garankuwa today (Thursday 16 October 2003) when the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) joins hands in a partnership with one of the country’s leading consumer goods manufacturers. Launched by Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry Ronnie Kasrils and Unilever South Africa’s Chief Executive Officer Doug Baillie, the schools initiative for the South African WASH Campaign promotes the simple act of washing hands with soap as a means to saving lives. “While access to safe water and adequate sanitation have important health benefits, sound hygiene behaviour, particularly proper handwashing, is crucial for the prevention of disease,” said Minister Kasrils “It is known, for example, that most endemic diarrhoeal diseases are not simply waterborne, but transmitted because of poor hygiene practices.” “Promoting handwashing with soap may represent the most cost effective and cost efficient public health intervention in the developing world today. It is critical therefore that the department work together with the private sector to combat issues that are of paramount importance to the health of South Africans,” commented the Minister. “The provision of clean water and adequate sanitation must be provided with personal hygiene awareness” he stresses. International research presented at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development indicated that as many as one million lives can be saved worldwide by washing hands with water and soap. This is because proper handwashing reduces the risk of diarrhoeal disease by up to forty seven percent. The international WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for all) Campaign was launched in response to the United Nations Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council’s (WSSCC) global advocacy to making safe water, sanitation and hygiene a reality for all people worldwide, and the South African WASH Campaign launched in 2002. Unilever’s Doug Baillie says the company’s involvement with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry South African schools programme offers an ideal

opportunity to make a real difference to the communities in which the company operates. “Unilever is not only interested in our consumers, we are also deeply concerned about the communities in which they live and we regard this initiative as extremely important to promoting better health among community members.” He adds: “We believe in starting with the children, for it is at this age that new behaviours can be learned, behaviours which will stand them in good stead for the future. Children are also very influential and often ‘educate’ their parents by taking home what they have learnt at school.” The joint partnership between DWAF and Unilever will see the WASH Campaign rolled out at schools around the country, in conjunction with the Vaseline children’s television series and radio inserts on the country’s vernacular stations. The Department of Health and Education are also involved through their integration with the WASH campaign.

For further information:

Rachelle Seymore at DWAF – (012) 336-8250 Ethne Whitley at Unilever - (011) 656-0404

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