RNLI launches appeal to combat the biggest killer of 1–4-year-olds in Bangladesh

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI’s Creches for Bangladesh appeal aims to tackle the childhood drowning epidemic in Bangladesh, which claims the lives of 40 children every day – during the appeal, all donations will be doubled by the UK government

Girl in creche

Bangladesh has a drowning rate five times higher than other low- and middle-income countries. Surrounded by 700 rivers and around 5,000 miles of inland waterways, children are always only steps away from danger:

  • very young children are at most risk between 9am and 1pm when parents are busy working and undertaking essential chores;
  • in Bangladesh, there is a lack of childcare infrastructure and it’s not within the reach of many families; however
  • access to a creche space reduces a child’s risk of drowning by 82%

The RNLI is urging the public to donate as much as they can afford to the Creches for Bangladesh appeal to help provide free community-led day care centres. This will ensure a secure place for children to play and learn while being protected from the risks of drowning. Access to a free creche space reduces a child’s risk of drowning by 82 per cent, as well as providing essential early childhood development opportunities. All donations made before the 28 April 2019 will be doubled by the UK government.

Kate Eardley, Head of International Advocacy at the RNLI says: ‘Drowning is a silent epidemic that urgently needs to be addressed. It’s not right that 40 children drown every day in Bangladesh when simple, low-cost solutions are available to prevent this. And it’s the youngest children who face the highest risk, unable to swim but surrounded by ponds and water-filled ditches.

‘We’re calling on the public to donate to the Creches for Bangladesh appeal online at https://www.rnli.org/creches. A donation of just £2.50 could pay for a whole month of day care for one child. And all donations made during the appeal will be doubled by the UK government, so together we can save even more young lives from drowning – every donation will truly make a difference.’

Penny Mordaunt, MP, Secretary of State for international Development says: “The drowning epidemic in Bangladesh cannot be ignored, the RNLI and their partners can make a huge difference by providing safe creche spaces for children to learn and play when they are most at risk. Access to a free creche place reduces a child’s risk of drowning by an incredible 82%. All donations made during the appeal will be doubled by the UK government, ensuring that your donation goes even further.”

Real story

Honufa, 26, is from Betagu Pouroshovar village in Bangladesh, she describes (her own words) what it’s like to needlessly lose a child to drowning:

Honufa says: ‘I lost my boy, Siam, to the river in 2015.

‘It was around 11 in the morning. My son and some other children were playing near some water. The river was flooded at that time. The children all climbed into the river and began swimming. But only my son, who couldn’t swim, he couldn’t get out. This is what the other children told me later.

‘We took my son to the hospital, but the doctor said that he was no more. I still cannot properly express my feelings about his loss.

‘He was a very good boy, calm and patient and he always listened to his mother. At that time, there was no creche and no awareness about drowning or water safety so that was bad for everyone.’

Funds raised through this appeal will help reduce the drowning rate of children in Bangladesh and make sure stories like Honufa’s don’t happen.

About the RNLI’s international work

At the charity’s inception, in 1824, RNLI founder Sir William Hillary laid out his vision for an organisation that would extend ‘from our own immediate coasts to the most remote quarters of the globe’. Most of the 360,000 drowning deaths each year are children and young people in low- and middle-income countries.

The RNLI and its partners are working to address the global drowning epidemic through demonstrating low-cost solutions in several countries. These include teaching swimming and survival skills, training lifeguards and developing low cost water rescue equipment. For the very youngest children, a safe day care environment helps to protect them from the everyday risks of drowning.

About UK Aid Match

UK Aid Match brings charities, British people and the UK government together to change the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. For every £1 given by the public to a UK Aid Match charity appeal, the government adds £1 from the UK’s international development budget.

Over the last five years 42 organisations from across the UK have run UK Aid Match projects in 27 developing countries, helping around 25 million people.

UK Aid Match gives everyone in the UK a say in how the UK’s aid money is spent. It boosts the impact of high quality projects that improve the lives of poor people in developing countries.

Children playing in creche

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.