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Tendulkar pushes Sri Lanka’s sanitation drive of potty politicians

ECONOMYNEXT – Indian mega star Sachin Tendulkar is pushing a major sanitation drive in Sri Lanka encouraging children to wash their hands, something local politicians have already turned into a fine art.

According to the UN children’s fund UNICEF, a considerable number of Sri Lankans have joined the potty ranks of "open defecators" while 610 million in South Asia do not have toilets. A staggering 1,600 children reportedly die each day from diarrhoeal diseases world-wide, according to UNICEF.

Tendulkar took time out at the Taj Samudra on Monday to show Sri Lankan girls and boys how to wash their hands thoroughly. He was joined by Sri Lankan cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan who was seen furiously rubbing his hands in a gesture of delivering a controversial doosra.

Perhaps the UNICEF should have got Sri Lankan politicians involved to more effectively drive the point home.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe could have shown how to wash hands off a bond scandal while former president Mahinda Rajapaksa could have illustrated how to sanitise his military’s murder of civilians as a “humanitarian operation”.  

His successor, Maithripala Sirisena, also could have been an excellent mentor for the washing drive. Sirisena has excelled in washing away the sins of many SLFP politicians to make them squeaky clean to join his sanitised cabinet.

Considering the gravity of the issue UNICEF has raised with Tendulkar’s celebrity status, President Sirisena could consider a minister for Sanitation to replicate the success of the mobile phone industry.

Perhaps the lack of toilets explains the success of the mobile phone industry in Sri Lanka as well as elsewhere in South Asia. Those without a toilet are likely to spend more time roaming for a suitable place to download with some degree of privacy.

Sri Lanka’s share of people without toilets is about 2.8 million joining the ranks of  "open defecators."

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Toilet usage in Sri Lanka has increased in recent years, but 14 percent of households still do not have toilets of their own, according to UNICEF. This means millions of Sri Lankans  have to share a public toilet or just gel with nature.

UNICEF’s "wash in school" initiative is expected to reduce the diarrhoeal deaths and the “wash in public” politicians should be able to help. (Colombo/Oct13/2015)

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