Of the 372,000 drowning deaths reported globally each year, over 90% occur in low- and middle-income countries. Here, people have a high exposure to natural open water bodies and often rely on ponds, canals and lakes within communities for daily tasks such as washing and bathing. As a result, drowning events often occur close to home. Within Bangladesh, most drowning cases of children under five occur within 20 meters of where they live. A lack of basic water safety education results in a limited awareness on effective approaches to mitigating drowning risk. 

We are currently working with partners on the development and implementation of drowning reduction strategies in low- and middle-income countries, such as Project Bhasa in Bangladesh.

Within the Barisal region of Bangladesh, nine child deaths due to drowning occur each day. This is partly due to the density of the population and the high percentage of land affected by water. With a population of over eight million, the Barisal Division is one of the most vulnerable areas in Bangladesh. Each of its six districts are affected by water-related hazards and disasters, with 72% of the land area of Bangladesh under water each year. To reduce the incidence of drowning, we are working on large scale multi-sectoral interventions with our partners, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh. Our community intervention will be providing supervision to 10,000 children, aged two to five years for three years (2017- 2019) and teaching basic water survival skills to 30,000 children aged six to 10 years. These community interventions are further supplemented with strong stakeholder engagement and policy interventions for sustainability of the program.

With strong partnerships, we aim to end the drowning epidemic.

Ending the drowning epidemic in Barishal division, Bangladesh

  • It is estimated that 321,000 drowning deaths occur globally each year; a global drowning rate of one person every 80 seconds.
  • More than 90% of drownings occur in low and middle income countries.

However, little is known about the impact of drowning on communities, both socially and economically.

Working in collaboration with The Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB), and with the support of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI), United Kingdom, we investigated drowning cases by demographic characteristics and features of the drowning event.

Results and qualitative findings of a household population-based cross-sectional survey to understand the burden and context of fatal drowning in the Barishal division of Bangladesh, helps us understand the context, beliefs and behaviour that influence water safety practices in the region.

Read the report

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