Drowning Prevention

Finding solutions to a leading killer of children

Each year, drowning claims the lives of 322,000 people. Low- and middle-income countries bear the greatest burden of drowning, accounting for over 90 percent of global drowning deaths. Sixty percent of all drowning deaths are among those under 30-years-old, with children between 1 and 4-years-old at a much higher risk of drowning. Many of these deaths can be prevented.


The Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative to Prevent Drowning supports drowning prevention activities in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Uganda, including supervision of young children in daycare, survival swimming instruction to children ages 6 to 15, and enhanced data collection.


Three primary outcomes of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative to Prevent Drowning include:

  • Identifying a cost-effective set of approaches to drowning prevention interventions that can be scaled-up in other low- and middle-income countries
  • Publishing a global report on drowning deaths to increase global advocacy and attention on the issue
  • Building a drowning prevention network through convenings and small grants in order to engage public health professionals and advocates who will be ready to participate in future drowning prevention efforts

Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 in Bangladesh with at least 10,000 deaths per year.

Studies show that most of these drowning deaths occur in small bodies of water, within 20 yards of their home, and particularly during hours when adults are working and children often go unsupervised.

To directly address these two major factors in preventable child drowning deaths, Bloomberg Philanthropies funded Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health from 2012-2017 to implement a two-year study evaluating potentially effective drowning prevention interventions: community daycare and playpens in 71,000 children under 5-years-old in Bangladesh. Community daycare is also a very cost effective strategy and has secondary benefits, such as cognitive development.

Bloomberg Philanthropies supported the 2014 Global Report on Drowning, published by the World Health Organization and the accompanying report published in 2017, Preventing Drowning: an Implementation Guide.