Global Handwashing Day (October 15) celebrates soap as a ‘do-it-yourself vaccine’ that prevents against infection and saves lives. This everyday, affordable product not only fights off diarrhea and respiratory infections, but is now – thanks to the creation of Faso Soap – also a tool for malaria prevention.
Faso Soap is an innovative mosquito-repelling product designed by two students from Burundi and Burkina Faso, Moctar Dembélé and Gérard Niyondiko. It was conceived as an accessible, low-cost alternative to conventional mosquito repellents and anti-malaria drugs, which are too expensive for the average household in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Burkina Faso, where the product was developed, 46 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and malaria remains the leading cause of death.
Faso Soap uses natural, locally sourced herbs that repel mosquitoes and prevent the development of mosquito larvae. Because it is manufactured locally, it can provide an affordable substitute ($0.59 per unit) for standard formula bar soaps which are used routinely throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2013, Faso Soap’s creators were awarded the US$25,000 Grand Prize in the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC), a global contest aimed at converting innovative ideas into businesses with social impact. Thanks to this seed funding, the team is now running clinical trials and hopes to have Faso Soap on the market in Burkina Faso by 2015.