The problem in facing COVID-19 in Madagascar: limited access to soap and water

Our country is considered among the poorest countries in the world - it is not only being affected by the increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients [104 individuals tested positive until now] , but Madagascar is also a place where other infectious diseases like diarrhea is still one of the main causes of death among children. Washing your hands is an important act of protection against these diseases. However, according to UNICEF, 3 out of 4 people do not have access to soap and water. Nearly half the population of Madagascar lives in severe poverty. The number of people in urban areas is growing at around twice the rate of the rest of the world, compounding challenges already caused by a lack of sufficient water and sanitation services.

Two thirds of people in the capital Antananarivo live in informal settlements, none of the city’s waste is treated effectively and only a small area has sewers. This has a huge impact on the health, safety and dignity of those living in low-income communities.

The number of victims can be multiplied very quickly exponentially in this context. We need a solution!

Our Solution

At Green N Kool we have developed a soap that will be distributed to the most needed people in Madagascar during these difficult COVID-19 times. We have developed a solidarity system:

1 soap bought = 1 soap given to vulnerable people, associations, NGOs. Thanks to one partner, we will also add a mask given from free with the soap in the next few days. We're also glad that a dozen of NGOs and associations are already motivated to join us in this initiative.

Environmental benefits: the soap is eco-friendly

During the past few months our team has tested and developed a soap made of used cooking oil that is affordable and safe for skin. Indeed, waste oil spilled in the environment presents a real danger to our environment. Thrown into water, the oil freezes and forms a film on the surface. Accumulated oil can clog pipes, especially in winter. The film formed by this oil prevents the circulation of oxygen in the water. In the pipes, this corrupts the bacteria responsible for the purification of wastewater. In nature, it is harmful to aquatic fauna and flora. Wastewater treatment plants are also victims of the presence of waste oils in the pipes. These are the source of an alarming additional depollution cost. Burning oils has disastrous effects too. Performed in poor conditions, the combustion of the oil causes toxic fumes to be returned to the atmosphere and the release of carcinogens. The oils thrown away with household waste cause damage to the incineration oven. However, in Madagascar, there is no public collection or recycling system plan to fight this source of dangerous pollution. As our sales increase we will start investing in our new prototype of no rinse-soap.

Why us? And our next steps with the Global Hack

Our social business, the Green N Kool, launched in 2016, is recognized for its commitment towards waste recovery, promotion of sustainable alternatives and empowerment of vulnerable people. While developing our eco-friendly soap during the past months, we have simultaneously proven that more and more restaurants, individuals and companies want to contribute now to our solidarity distribution system.

In order to facilitate the collection of used cooking oil, we thought about an app that will facilitate our collection routes, encourage people to contribute and that could also indicate a collecting point. A national mobile provider is ready to help us in this awareness campaign to promote the app and our project.

Other digital bonus

In addition to the app we are working on during this Global Hack, our challenge is also to : -- will include a quiz which will guide each client on a soap according to their needs and skin type.

  • develop a website that will include on online game (and more to come) : each gamer will earn points by winning that could be converted into free soaps that will be given to one of our partners (associations/NGOs). This measure is mostly towards the people not living in Madagascar but who want to contribute to our project in a fun way.

A wonderful team : Green Warriors

We have different profiles in our team : social workers, environmentalist, waste management specialist, chemistry engineer, project manager but also vulnerable people working on the packaging of our soaps. Thanks to the Global Hack we also have now a team of 7 developers who contribute to our project.

Challenges we run into

  • Prejudices against used cooked oil from a few customers
  • Access to raw materials during confinement. We have to find alternatives and new providers.

Accomplishments that we are proud of

A few days ago, our project Alt. Soap won the 1 first prize at the Madagascar national hackathon on COVID-19, Hack the crisis thanks to the prototype of no-rinse soap we created. The Green N Kool has been awarded as Best Social Startup for Madagascar at Southern Africa Startup Awards 2019. Its founder and CEO, Ms. Marie Christina Kolo was also chosen as Female Role Model of the year at the same competition and was 2nd runner up at the 2018 WWF Africa Youth Awards representing Madagascar. .

What's next for Alt. Soap

We would like increase our Soap production (up to 10 000 soaps per month), sell them in supermarket shelves and reach more vulnerable people for a greater impact through our solidarity soap. Our model is simple but it is pragmatic and is responding to an urgent need.

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