Two African students, Moctar Dembele from Burkina Faso and Gerard Niyondiko from Burundi have invented “Fasoap”, a soap made from locally sourced herbs and natural ingredients, which when used leaves a scent that repels mosquitoes and hence diminishes the prevalence of Malaria.
The innovation was awarded the $25,000 Grand Prize in the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC), in April.
Fasoap is made from shea butter, essential lemongrass oil and other ingredients that are still a secret.
“After using the soap, it leaves on the skin a scent that repels mosquitoes,” says Niyondiko, who studies with Dembele at the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.
“In addition, waste water products contain substances that prevent the development of mosquito larvae, because the sanitation problem in Africa is one of the causes of mosquito vectors of malaria.”
Niyondiko says their anti-malaria soap company, which is called Faso Soap, will help address all these issues. “In our country the majority of the population lives below the poverty line,” he explains, adding that most people can’t afford to regularly buy medicines and products such as anti-mosquito creams, sprays or protective nets.
“So we thought of a repellent and larvicidal mosquito soap which will be accessible and affordable to the majority of the population, seeing that soap is a commodity product and especially not going to add other additional costs to the population,” says Niyondiko.
“Our soap will fulfill the desire of the population to be clean, as well as protect them from malaria, without any additional cost to them.”
To win the GSVC Grand Prize, Niyondiko, 35, and Dembele, 22, beat 650 competitors from nearly 40 countries. Their victory marks the first time an entry from Africa has won the competition.
“It is a feeling of joy and pride for us and for Africa in general,” says Niyondiko of their win. “It also shows that in Africa we are not back(ward) and that Africa’s problems can be solved by Africans themselves.” As a Biochemist, I gotta say this is pretty darn impressive. More so because the African Region accounts for 85% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths worldwide with a child dying from malaria every minute according to the WHO.