Ghana

Despite a common perception of Africa as a ‘dry continent’, settlements are often constructed near rivers, beaches or lakes to take advantage of an accessible water supply. In Accra, communities rely on open water for their livelihoods, transport and leisure.

In wealthy countries, open water is mostly used for recreational or regulated commercial activities. But in Ghana, open water is regularly used for essential tasks such as collecting drinking water, washing dishes and bathing. 

These are high-risk activities if a person is unable to swim or survive in the water, and can be particularly perilous during periods of extreme weather and flooding. The absence of affordable and accessible recreation facilities in Ghana also means that beaches are increasingly used as playgrounds for children.

An Aquatic Survival instructor teaches Ghanaian children using illustrated safety signs

Photo: Steve Wills

An Aquatic Survival instructor teaches Ghanaian children using illustrated safety signs

Our knowledge of drowning in Ghana is mainly based on an understanding that exposure to open water and an inability to swim/survive in water are major risk factors for drowning. Although many households rely on regular use of open water, a systematic approach to water safety education and other drowning prevention activities has not been undertaken.

How we’re helping

To date, our work in Ghana has focused on rolling out the Aquatic Survival programme to as many Ghanaian children as possible.

We’ve been working with Felix Fitness Foundation, a social enterprise promoting water safety in Accra, Ghana. Between January 2015 and 2016, more than 31,000 children across 100 schools were taught water safety messages, and 86 school teachers have learned how to deliver these messages themselves.

Felix Uzor with children in an Aquatic Survival lesson delivered by his Fitness Foundation

Photo: Steve Wills

Felix Uzor with children in an Aquatic Survival lesson delivered by his Fitness Foundation