Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Harnessing the Power of Cricket to Bowl Out Diarrhea in South Asia

March 21, 2014

In South Asia, there is no sport that captivates the hearts of people more than cricket. When there is a big cricket match, nothing else matters. People of all ages and social strata are glued to TVs and radios, hoping that their team will come out on top. World Cups in particular attract TV audiences that dwarf even the Superbowl. Top cricket stars, such as Suresh Raina from India, are worshipped like demi-gods and national teams are the pride of their countries.

While South Asia may place high in cricket rankings, it lags in sanitation and hygiene. More than 40% of people in the region do not have access to a toilet. In India alone, 620 million people defecate in the open every day. Resulting diarrhea causes the deaths of over 500 children every single day.

At WASH United, we want to get people as enthusiastic about sanitation and hygiene as they are about cricket. Now, through a charity partnership with the International Cricket Council (ICC) around the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, we have the opportunity to do just that.

 As part of our partnership with ICC, key matches of the tournament will be dedicated to promoting sanitation and good hygiene, including the most anticipated match of the tournament, India vs. Pakistan. Activities include fan activations in and outside of the stadium, as well as TV spots deliveringlife-saving WASH messages that will be broadcasted during matches. 

Additionally, in coordination with our local partners WaterAid Bangladesh and Underprivileged Children's Educational Programs (UCEP), a total of 9,000 school children will be trained in good WASH behavior, with a lucky few getting to attend Coaching Clinics where they will meet some of the cricket stars. The activities are supported by our mascot, Happy, the hand-washing tiger. All in all, we expect to reach hundreds of millions of at-risk people in the region with aspirational cricket-themed messaging around sanitation and hygiene.

One example for the excitement about the campaign among cricket fans is the online reaction to the tweet in which Suresh Raina announced his role as a WASH United ambassador. Hundreds of fans praised him for promoting our cause and interacted with WASH United.

Now it’s your turn! Even if you’re not a cricket megastar, you can still help spread important WASH messages to your network and friends. Start by tweeting or sharing this inspiring video with the message: #Sanitation & #hygiene transforms lives & nations. http://buff.ly/1gCdv1I #Cricket4WASH 


 
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