Gérard Niyondiko along with colleagues Frank Langevin and Lisa Barutel has posted a project on the crowd source funding site ulule for a product called Faso Soap. They claim the soap can cut in half the number of people bitten by anopheles mosquitoes carrying the Plasmodium parasite which is responsible for causing malaria.
Niyondiko first created the soap, with another colleague Moctar Dembélé back in 2013—together they won the Global Social Venture Competition held at the University of California—along with $25,000 to help further develop their product. Now Niyondiko and his team want to finalize development of the soap which is made using shea butter along with natural oils that anopheles mosquitoes do not like. The initial goal for the project was $34,091, but that number has been eclipsed. The team expects to use the extra funds to further test the soap for efficiency in the field (at the National Center for Research and Training against Malaria in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) and if possible set up a manufacturing operation. They note that not only does the soap help ward off mosquitoes bites (for up to six hours) if used to wash the body, but the water that is used to rinse afterwards, which is typically discarded nearby, will not serve as a breeding ground for future mosquitoes because of the soap residue in it.
Despite wide media coverage, existing health organizations dedicated to eradicating malaria, most particularly in Africa, have been slow to embrace endorsing the soap because it has not been widely tested to ensure that it is safe for use on humans.
The Faso Soap team appears undaunted by such concerns, boldly predicting that their soap could save as many as 100,000 people a year in just two years time. They have already put plans into action to develop their own distribution network, which they claim will allow the soap to reach those most at risk of the disease. They also note that their soap overcomes a natural affinity to change in the African population, by introducing a product that is already widely used: soap. They suggest that local populations will be quick to embrace the soap once they realize that it really does help protect against contracting malaria.