The Unilever Foundation Ambassador Challenge offers Unilever employees the chance to discover how Unilever and its five global partners are helping to improve the lives of millions of people through support from the Unilever Foundation. The chosen Ambassadors are given the unique opportunity to see how positive social impact is being achieved at scale to create a brighter future.
Aytek Koyun who works in R&D at Unilever is this year’s Unilever Foundation Ambassador for the UNICEF partnership. He recently visited UNICEF-supported sanitation programmes in the An Giang province of Viet Nam. We caught up with Aytek, to find out about his trip and how it made him an advocate for improving sanitation.
Tell us about the highlights of your trip
My four days on the ground in Viet Nam were a really eye-opening experience. I met with government and public health officials to hear about the progress that is collectively being made to address the sanitation crisis. There’s a real sense of momentum – it was good to hear that the Prime Minister recently issued a commitment to make Viet Nam open defecation free by 2025.
I learnt about UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS)programme which is a behaviour change programme that promotes good sanitation and hygiene practices to improve the health and well-being of communities and help create demand for toilets. Through CATS, UNICEF is working with sanitation entrepreneurs to provide a range of affordable options to meet the increasing demand for toilets. This is good news for improving sanitation across the country.
How has it made you think differently about toilets/sanitation?
It’s startling to think that more than 3.7 million people in Viet Nam defecate in the open because they don’t have access to proper toilets. I got to see just what life is like without a toilet when people are forced to go in a bush, a river or a field; it makes you realise how unacceptable it is for millions of people to be living like that.
How is sanitation improving in Viet Nam?
With our additional support, 415 villages have taken part in programmes to give them better access to toilets; 27 of these villages are now open defecation free. There’s still more work to be done, but I am very proud to see that support from the Unilever Foundation and Domestos is making a real, positive difference.
If you feel inspired by Aytek Koyun, here are some actions which you can take: