COLOMBO: Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar launched an initiative in Sri Lanka on Monday to improve hygiene among children in South Asia, where hundreds of millions have no access to toilets.
The Indian superstar showed local children at a deluxe hotel in Colombo how to use soap and water to wash their hands before meals and avoid the risk of disease.
“A simple act of washing hands with soap can keep children safe and healthy and protect them against these deadly (diarrhoeal) diseases,” he told reporters.
Tendulkar, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations children’s fund (Unicef), was promoting the “wash in school” drive aimed at slashing the death toll from poor sanitation which kills some 1,800 children aged under five worldwide every day, according to the UN body.
Unicef said South Asia had made considerable progress in the past two decades, with the proportion of people using toilets increasing from 20 per cent in 1995 to 45 per cent by this year.
“The number of people not using a toilet in South Asia is still huge with 64 per cent of the world’s open defecators living in the region. A total of 610 million people in South Asia do not have toilets,” Unicef said.
In Sri Lanka some 14 per cent of households in the nation of 20 million lack toilets, UNICEF said.
Local cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan has also been enlisted to support the “wash in school” drive in Sri Lanka.