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Drowning Prevention

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Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children globally, especially in Asia and Africa. The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) supports governments to test and implement proven drowning prevention interventions at scale and works with local communities to create awareness and generate demand for services to achieve sustainable drowning prevention programs. 

We work with governments to develop successful national drowning prevention programs, including survival swim training, water safety education and childcare centers. This includes:

  • Facilitating country ownership and handover from international donors, creating a sustainable solution.
  • Designing evidence-based pilot programs and evaluating and using the proven impacts to advocate that governments scale-up, fund and sustain the programs.
  • Building local capacity to educate the key stakeholders, the public and media about the problem of drowning, effective interventions and the need to fund them.

We also raise awareness of the global burden of drowning through work with journalists and emerging leaders around the world to better advocate for effective drowning prevention programs and policies to expand and strengthen drowning prevention expertise nationally and globally.

This work is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Where We Work

  • Current:
  • Uganda,
  • Vietnam
  • Past:
  • Bangladesh
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Nearly 235,000

people die of drowning each year globally.

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More than 90%

of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

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Every day

7 children under 15 years of age lose their lives to drowning in Vietnam.

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Our Impact


The Government of Vietnam approved a 10-Year National Program on child injury prevention for 2021-2030. The program supports drowning prevention interventions and instructs provinces to prioritize and fund these interventions.


The Government of Bangladesh approved a $32 million, three-year program to reduce drowning among children. The program includes taking over the management of 2,500 childcare centers that are proven to reduce drowning in children ages 1-5 and increasing the number to 8,000, to provide supervision to 200,000 children.


Vietnam’s Minister of Education and Training signed an historical circular regulating the development and accreditation of safe survival swim and water safety education in school and injury prevention programs.

In Bangladesh, advocacy by GHAI and its partners ensured the sustainability of a community childcare program that reduced drowning deaths by 88% among children under four. The Bangladesh government took ownership of the program in 2022, approving a budget to expand it by threefold to support 8,000 community-based childcare centers and provide funds for survival swim lessons for 360,000 children 6-10 years old.

In Vietnam, GHAI is partnering with the government, the World Health Organization and local experts to design, implement and sustain a national drowning prevention program that had trained 846 instructors and enrolled 31,594 children by August 2023. The partnership has led to increased co-funding at the national and provincial levels every year since the program began in 2017.

Relevant Team Members

Lopa Ghosh

Lead Consultant, India Communications

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Vandana Shah

Vice President, Health Systems Strengthening

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Related Case Studies

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Sustaining Drowning Prevention Programs in Vietnam

In Vietnam, a groundbreaking partnership between the national government and international partners is on track to reduce the national drowning burden by 20%. By securing dedicated funding streams and pursuing innovative partnerships, two high-burden provinces have provided a blueprint for sustaining their drowning prevention programs.