Mumbai, Nov 28: Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has become UNICEF Ambassador for South Asia during a signing ceremony in Mumbai today. In this capacity Tendulkar will support UNICEF's work in promoting hygiene and sanitation in South Asia.
"I humbly accept the responsibility of being an Ambassador for UNICEF in South Asia. I look forward to working with children and communities in the region, urging them to use toilets and wash their hands. Following simple practices can contribute to a hygienic lifestyle which is important for the good health of children and women across the world," Sachin was quoted as saying in a press release issued by UNICEF on Thursday.
After sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia is the region with the highest number of under-five deaths: 2.3 million in 2011. In this region, 39 per cent of children under the age of five are stunted. South Asia is also the region with the highest numbers of people without toilets: more than 680 million people don't use toilets.
Sanitation has a strong connection not only with personal hygiene but also with human dignity, well-being, public health, nutrition, education. Children under five are the most vulnerable to the effects of poor sanitation. Every year, more than half a million South Asian children under the age of five die of diarrhoea, caused by unsafe drinking water, lack of sanitation and poor hygiene behaviours.
"When playing cricket, Sachin Tendulkar had the unique power to reach everybody in all corners of South Asia and the world. Now Sachin will do the same and lend his voice to reach everybody in all villages and communities in South Asia with hygiene and sanitation messages. Using a toilet and hand washing with soap means healthy lives with dignity and helps all children to thrive." said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.
UNICEF Ambassadors are celebrities with a demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of children. Highly talented in their individual right, they all share an ability to bring children's issues to attention, to galvanize support from the public and lead decision makers and to raise urgently needed funds for vital UNICEF programmes.