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RB and Save the Children launch ground-breaking partnership to reduce child deaths from diarrhoea

The global partnership between RB and Save the Children today launched a unique and ground-breaking programme to help eradicate child deaths from diarrhoea.

25 Mar 20155 minute read

The global partnership between RB and Save the Children today launched a unique and ground-breaking programme to help eradicate child deaths from diarrhoea.

The partnership unveiled two innovative new hygiene and sanitation products by RB (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser) alongside Save the Children’s sustainable Stop Diarrhoea programme in India, Pakistan and Nigeria – aimed at preventing, controlling and treating the unnecessary killer. 

The combination of RB’s expertise in product development and research, and Save the Children’s experience of delivering life-saving work will help save thousands of young lives a year. Funded by RB, the Stop Diarrhoea programme, will for the first time fully implement the World Health Organisation and UNICEF 7-point plan to ensure comprehensive diarrhoea control.

Each year 567,000 children under-five die needlessly from diarrhoea, equivalent to 64 children every hour. In an ambitious drive to help end this, Save the Children and RB have committed to working with national governments and other partners to implement the 7 Point Plan. To improve hand washing and community sanitation, RB and 19 of their suppliers (who volunteered their time) have developed two unique products that are completely new to market.

The products are a low-cost germ protection bar that can be used by families for cleaning and washing hands (including children from the age of one). Two years in the making, the second is a ‘game-changing’ toilet powder to make the use of pit latrines more hygienic. The powder keeps flies away, reduces both faecal matter and the transmission of germs. The benefits of the toilet powder should encourage communities to make better use of the more hygienic pit latrines, as opposed to defecating in public areas.

For the first time, RB will not be making a profit from these products and the revenue will be reinvested into the Stop Diarrhoea programme and fighting diarrhoea. They will also be produced locally, encouraging entrepreneurship, in addition to reducing the overall carbon footprint and transport costs associated with their manufacture. 

The two unique products are major breakthroughs in science and technology to target specific issues and save lives. Both products have been created to be affordable for consumers who have not traditionally been able to afford personal and home hygiene products. 

Toilet Powder:

- The fragranced powder has highly absorptive qualities and also has a well-balanced combination of micro-organisms that accelerate the natural and continuous degradation of faeces reducing the need to regularly empty pit latrines and making them more hygienic. Initial tests show significant volume reduction after only one week’s usage.

- Highly biodegradable the powder has been developed combining natural raw material from food production waste, such as rice husk and coconut peat.

- The citrus fragrance reduces the unpleasant odours which also results in a reduction of flies and pests which use the toilets as a food source, spreading disease.

Affordable Germ Protection Bar:

- Has been developed as a product to be used by families to wash themselves, their children, (safe from children from the age of 1 year)

- Requires less water so effective even when reduced access to water

- Contains ingredients that help in moisturising the skin and reduces the transmission of disease-causing germs

Rakesh Kapoor, Chief Executive of RB, said: “RB has a purpose to make a difference by creating innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes. We believe that businesses like ours have a responsibility of delivering value to the society beyond the returns to the shareholders. We have used our core R&D business to develop products to help stop children dying from diarrhoea, this is the first time RB has developed and tested products specifically for consumers at the bottom of the pyramid”.

“By 2025, more than half of the world's population will have joined the consuming classes, driving annual consumption in emerging markets to $30 trillion. RB is playing an important role in introducing these new consumers to the economy through the development of innovative products for consumers at the bottom of the pyramid, who represent some of the most discerning customers in the world. RB is one of the few global FMCG players investing in innovation at this level.”

Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said: “This ground breaking innovative partnership between Save the Children and RB will harness the research and expertise of RB with Save the Children’s on the ground experience to stop children dying of diarrhoea. It will pioneer how the private sector and NGOs can accelerate change for children”

The products will be piloted in Pakistan and Nigeria with plans to roll them out into India by the end of the year. 

The products have been developed through a model of ‘open innovation’ bringing together some of the world’s leading chemical scientists, enzyme specialists, fragrance experts and academics from around world, including BASF, Novozymes, Tagasako and University of Nairobi. This open and collaborative approach to innovation represents another first for RB in the development of the two new products.


About RB

RB (formerly called Reckitt Benckiser) is the world’s leading consumer health and hygiene company. The company has operations in over 60 countries, with headquarters in the UK, Singapore, Dubai and Amsterdam, and sales in almost 200 countries. The company employs approximately 37,000 people worldwide. 

With a purpose of delivering innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes, RB is in the top 20 of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. Today it is the global No. 1 or No. 2 in the majority of its fast-growing categories, driven by an exceptional rate of innovation. Its health, hygiene and home portfolio is led by 19 global Powerbrands including Mucinex, Durex, Scholl, Lysol, Clearasil, Veet, Finish, Air Wick, French’s, Nurofen, Strepsils, Gaviscon, Dettol, Harpic, Bang, Woolite, Mortein, Vanish and Calgon.

Fuelled by a new breed of talent who blend intellectual curiosity with commitment to the highest quality standards, RB is set to redefine the world of consumer health and hygiene. RB people and its culture are at the heart of the company’s success. They have an intense drive for achievement and a desire to outperform wherever they focus, including in sustainability.