Combine baking soda, oil, and extract from a local Malawian tree, and it equals better hygiene for an entire community.
Those are the ingredients for soap, and that simple formula has changed life for 160 families in the village of Mvula in Chikwawa District, Malawi.
“We saw that although families had constructed latrines, many of them did not have soap for handwashing and personal hygiene,” explains Elina Banda, who is a member of the village soap-making committee. “It was mainly due to the high cost of bringing soaps from other towns. This lack of soap meant we were still experiencing some water-borne diseases.”
Water For People and district health officials introduced the idea of soap-making to Elina’s community, and they came to train a 10-person committee on how to make soap.
“We were excited about the idea of a soap-making committee, because it would improve hygiene and allow soap to be found locally at a cheaper price,” Elina says.