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International Development

Drowning claims an estimated 372,000 lives around the world each year, over one-third of which are children. This is a conservative estimate – the actual number is likely to be much higher. More than 90% of these drownings happen in low- and middle-income countries.

Despite the scale of the problem, it is barely recognised – a silent epidemic. It’s hard to believe that this is not yet a global priority. We are working to change that.

Working in partnership with others, we are expanding our international work to provide communities with the knowledge, equipment and skills to try to reduce this staggering loss of life.

Where we are working

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World Map Bangladesh Brazil British Virgin Islands Cameroon Kenya Philippines Senegal Tanzania The Gambia Uganda Uruguay Ghana
Flag of Bangladesh



Bangladesh has one of the highest drowning rates in the world. Drowning is a leading killer of children in this country, claiming around 18,000 lives a year.
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Flag of Brazil


South America

Brazil's 7,500km of coastline is the 16th longest national coastline in the world, yet it has no dedicated national search and rescue service.
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Flag of British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands


As tourism and related watersports increase in the British Virgin Islands, so has the number of incidents on the water.
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Flag of Cameroon



​Despite being a coastal country, 80% of Cameroon’s population can’t swim. Drowning in the sea and in lakes is a daily occurrence.
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Flag of Kenya



Drowning in coastal communities in Kenya was an increasing problem when we began working with volunteer lifeguards in 2008.
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Flag of The Philippines



As an island nation, residents of the Philippines rely on water in so many ways in their daily lives.
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Flag of Senegal



Senegal is on the Atlantic coast, where heavy surf pounds its shores and treacherous currents are common.
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Flag of Tanzania



Daily exposure to water hazards, coupled with the inability to swim, can prove a fatal combination for Tanzania’s people.
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Flag of The Gambia

The Gambia


The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in the world, yet it has a big international tourism market. There are drownings in two major groups: local children and fishermen, and local and international tourists.
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Flag of Uganda



Of the estimated 400,000 people who drown worldwide every year, people in Africa are affected more than anywhere else.
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Flag of Uruguay


South America

Uruguay has a volunteer lifeboat service made up of five stations along the Río de la Plata (River Plate) estuary on the country’s border with Argentina.
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Flag of Ghana



In Accra, communities rely on the use of open water for their livelihoods, transportation and recreation.
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RNLI trainer teaching a
young boy to swim in Tanzania

Our lifesaving programmes will drastically improve the chances of people surviving in and around water.​

​One size doesn’t fit all. We’re equipping communities most at need with lifesaving knowledge and skills relevant to them.

Making a difference​

Where we’re working

​The problem

​Our approach

A child learns to swim in Tanzania thanks to our Aquatic Survival Programme Representatives from countries around the world on the RNLI’s second ever Future Leaders in Lifesaving course

​Drowning is one of the biggest killers in many low and middle income countries. Yet hundreds of thousands of deaths are going unnoticed.

This needless loss of life is unacceptable. Working with partners around the world we aim to make drowning prevention a global priority.

The silent epidemic

Our five-step plan

​Our impact


Bangladeshi lifeguard Sukkur with the young girl he saved In the classroom: international lifeguard training taking place in Bangladesh

​Just days after we helped establish a lifeguard service in Bangladesh, lifeguard Sukkur saved the life of this young girl.

​We’re working with partners to produce a range of free training resources for new and developing lifesaving organisations.

One life saved

Take a look


​So much more

Poole’s Tyne class all-weather lifeboat in rough seas Representatives from countries around the world running along the beach on our Future Leaders in Lifesaving course

​As a world-class maritime search and rescue organisation, sharing our expertise is vital in saving lives worldwide.

​Our short films bring our international work to life. Our news stories raise awareness. And our FAQs aim to answer your questions and concerns. 

Here to help

Learn more

​How you can help

A young girl in Tanzania learning to swim thanks to our Aquatic Survival programme

​Thousands of people drown needlessly each year. We have the expertise to help change that. And with your support, we can work harder.