In January 2016, Kao Corporation started the Water and Sanitation Project for Schools in Vietnam, an endeavor to improve environmental hygiene. The project is carried out by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Vietnam is one of the countries in which Kao operates. Kao started to support this activity starting with An Giang Province to solve a global social issue of water and hygiene, which closely relates to Kao's business. Appreciating the fruition of that support, Kao extended activities to Dien Bien Province this year.
While Vietnam has achieved remarkable economic growth in urban areas, there remain poorer communities in mountainous and farming areas, as well as regions mostly inhabited by ethnic minorities. As environmental hygiene is yet to be established in those areas, the mortality rate of infants under five years old is still high due to diseases such as chronic diarrhea (The State of the World's Children 2017).
This project aims, in particular, at 60 elementary schools and kindergartens in remote areas, where the support efforts have difficulty penetrating. At those institutions, Kao installs and improves hygiene facilities such as toilets and hand-washing facilities, and communicates the knowledge of hygiene, such as the importance of hand-washing, to 35,000 children. Kao also supports teachers and volunteer instructors in promoting good hygiene practices in children and their neighbors. The project promotes activities to spread hygiene practices across households and communities with schools as the bases.
In An Giang Province, which Kao has supported since 2016, environmental hygiene in schools and children's awareness of hygiene have greatly improved. That improvement has led to the successful installation of toilets, and hygiene practices are taking root in households. More importantly, 140 villages in An Giang Province have achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.
Starting this year, Kao is enhancing support for activities in Dien Bien Province as a new focus. The province is located in a mountainous area and borders Laos. Like those in An Giang Province, activities in Dien Bien Province are expected to have a ripple effect from schools to households to communities.
Administrative authorities in Vietnam also place a premium on the improvement of environmental hygiene in schools and neighborhoods. The authorities expect great success from this project through collaboration with UNICEF.
Adding to the Water and Sanitation Project for Schools, activities including the Leader Development for Infection Control and the Scholarship for Hygiene Management will be started with the purpose of contributing to the establishment of cleanliness and hygiene practices in Vietnam, based on accumulated knowledge.
The Kao Group will globally promote its unique environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities for the wholehearted satisfaction and enrichment of the lives of people worldwide, and for contributing to social sustainability.
Five years from 2016
An Giang Province and Dien Bien Province in Vietnam
Activities include: surveys of the quality of hygiene facilities in schools; efforts to improve hygiene facilities in schools; development of hygiene education tools for schools; training for teachers and community leaders; hygiene promotion activities by children.
UNICEF is a UN organization working to promote the right and healthy growth of every child. While UNICEF focuses on support for children in the most disadvantaged situations, its mission includes every child in the world.
Currently, UNICEF is working on a wide variety of support activities in 150 or more countries and territories, including health, nutrition, water and hygiene, education, protection of children, and emergency support. Support activities are carried out by UNICEF local offices in cooperation with their respective national governments. The UNICEF Vietnam Office controls all of the UNICEF's support activities in Vietnam.
All of the funds for UNICEF's activities are raised through the contributions of individuals and organizations, and voluntary contribution from national governments. The Japan Committee for UNICEF, a public interest incorporated foundation, is one of the UNICEF National Committees located in 34 advanced industrial countries and territories. As the only private-sector organization representing UNICEF within Japan, the committee works on public relations, fund-raising campaigns, and policy advocacy for UNICEF activities.