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International Development

Drowning claims an estimated 400,000 lives around the world each year, over half of which are children. This is a conservative estimate – the actual number is likely to be much higher. An incredible 96% 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 Brazil Uruguay British Virgin Islands Senegal The Gambia Kenya Bangladesh The Gambia Uganda Tanzania Philippines
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 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 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 Senegal



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



As an island nation, residents of the Philippines rely on water in so many ways in their daily lives.
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How we’re helping

We know drowning is preventable. In fact it’s as preventable as most diseases. A large proportion of global drownings occur in coastal locations, in floods, in rivers or in other large bodies of water – areas in which we have expertise in saving lives. Areas in which we can offer help.

We’re not setting up RNLI services overseas – we’re giving others the means to help themselves, by providing a range of services to other lifesaving and drowning prevention organisations. In each case, we assess their current capabilities and needs to decide how best we can help. This help might take the form of bespoke training, programme development or strategic guidance and advice.