As part of the fight against the leading killer of children in Bangladesh, the International Drowning Research Centre – Bangladesh (IDRC-B) will launch a new intervention against drowning – a large portable pool to teach urban children vital water survival skills.
The IDRC-B will launch the pool on Wednesday 20 April 2011 as part of their SwimSafe programme – a unique initiative in Bangladesh that has already taught over 100,000 children in rural Bangladesh vital water survival skills.
The 12 metre by 6.5 metre pool will be trialed as an effective tool in the prevention of child drowning in urban Dhaka. A pool has also recently been established in the Dhaka area of Mirpur.
Since the SwimSafe programme’s inception in Bangladesh in 2006, over 100,000 children have learnt swimming and water safety skills. Not one graduate of the programme has drowned. The success of the programme in rural Bangladesh is hoped to carry over to children in urban Dhaka.
Dr Aminur Rahman, Director of the IDRC-B, says that while drowning mostly occurs in rural areas, it is not commonly known that a large number of children from urban areas also become victims of drowning.
Dr Aminur said “Unfortunately, the high rate of child mortality due to drowning is not only occurring amongst children who live in rural areas where there is a lot of water. Children who live in urban areas do not have the same opportunities as rural children to familiarize themselves with water and learn how to swim naturally. As a result, it’s quite a common scenario when families visit their villages or holiday by the ocean that children find themselves in trouble in water and do not know how to save themselves or others.”
“The portable pool that we have set up in Agargaon is the first of its kind in Bangladesh. We will be providing hundreds of children with the opportunity to learn water survival skills as part of the SwimSafe curriculum. The pools have already been established in Thailand and Vietnam with great success, and we are positive that we can replicate that here in Bangladesh.”
Dr Aminur added “Research has shown us that a major factor in preventing child drowning is the ability to swim. That’s why this innovative pool is so important in the reduction of child drowning in this country.”
Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child drowning in the world. Each year, 18,000 children under the age of 18 drown and it is now the leading cause of death of children in the country.
IDRC-B’s partners Royal Life Saving Society Australia, The Alliance for Safe Children and AusAID have provided technical and financial support for the project. The Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Dr Justin Lee has shown his support for the initiative and will be attending the official launch.
The portable pool initiative will also be trialed in the rural project area of Raiganj, Siragonj. Two pools will be established in the area to test their feasibility as an alternative to the bamboo structures that SwimSafe lessons are currently taught in.