Faso Soap and the Fight Against Malaria in Africa

faso soapMalaria is a preventable and curable disease acquired by bites from infected mosquitoes that is life-threatening if left untreated. Sub-Saharan Africa is by far the worst affected area in terms of its affect on the population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 85% of the world’s cases and 90% of its deaths due to the disease occur here. Furthermore, 85% of Africa’s malaria cases are found in children under 5 years of age; every 30 seconds, a child dies from malaria. This is mostly due to extreme poverty as millions of people are unable to afford preventative measures such as bug spray or mosquito nets. Much work has been done by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and multilateral organizations such as the WHO and the United Nations in order to vastly reduce the effects of malaria, but more work needs to be done.

One exciting preventative measure that has been gaining international attention in the fight against malaria prevention is called faso soap, named after where it was developed: Burkina Faso. Developed by two students, Moctar Dembélé and Gérard Niyondiko, faso soap takes a regular recipe for soap and manufactures it with a secret mixture of local ingredients. The secret mixture includes such ingredients as lemongrass, known indeed to repel mosquitoes. The end product is a bar of soap that when used to clean ones skin, leaves a scent that repels mosquitoes.

The ingenuity of the product is multifaceted. First, the secret repelling mixture is made of abundant local ingredients in Burkina Faso, so it will help the local economy. Second, as noted by Moctar Dembélé, even the poorest people in Africa use soap to clean themselves on a routine basis. Therefore, the use of soap as a means to repel mosquitoes does not change the routines of the very people most affected by the disease; it will be a very easy way to implement its use among the population. Thirdly, it is inexpensive to make, and therefore, the price of the product should be comparable to a regular bar of soap. This should further increase the acceptance of the product’s use among the general population.

For their invention, Moctar Dembélé and Gérard Niyondiko won the grand prize in the Global Social Venture Competition in 2013; a total of $25, 000. They beat 650 other competitors for the prize. It was the first time that the prize had been won by a non-American. This recognition is important because, as explained by Gérard Niyondiko, it “shows that in Africa we are not back(ward) and that Africa’s problems can be solved by Africans themselves.” (quote from: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/10/world/africa/students-invent-soap-malaria-fasoap/)

Reducing malaria throughout Africa has huge positive consequences ranging from a healthier, longer living population, leading to increased production, stronger economies, and reduced poverty. Faso soap definitely seems like it is a strong step forward in the fight against malaria in Africa.

Currently, the aim of the team is to enter the market by 2015 in Burkina Faso, and eventually throughout Africa with the help of NGOs.

Comments are closed.

When and Where?

We are located in

#209-1008 17 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta T2T 0A6

Phone: (403) 800-6608