Strengthening Water Safety: Drowning Prevention in Nigeria on World Drowning Prevention Day

As the world comes together to observe World Drowning Prevention Day on July 25th, there is an urgent need to address a silent but deadly epidemic plaguing Nigeria – drowning. The alarming statistics reveal that drowning is a significant cause of death in the country, affecting both young and old, and making it imperative to implement comprehensive drowning prevention measures. By raising awareness and taking action, we can save precious lives and create a safer aquatic environment for all Nigerians.

The Gravity of the Issue

Drowning is a preventable tragedy that claims thousands of lives worldwide each year. In Nigeria, it ranks among the leading causes of death, with a distressing number of victims being women and children. According to the latest WHO data, drowning deaths in Nigeria reached a staggering 6,584, accounting for 0.44% of total deaths, making it a pressing public health concern.

The Situation in Nigeria

Tragically, 8 out of 10 Nigerians do not know how to swim, leaving them vulnerable when engaging in water-related activities. Whether at natural water bodies like rivers and lakes, or artificial ones such as swimming pools, the lack of swimming skills and inadequate safety practices pose significant risks.

Children are particularly susceptible to drowning accidents, as they are naturally drawn to water but often lack the ability to recognize potential dangers. Active supervision is essential when children are near water, and parents and caregivers must be diligent in keeping a watchful eye on their little ones.

Water Safety: A Multi-Faceted Approach

To address the drowning epidemic in Nigeria, a multi-faceted approach that combines education, regulation, and community involvement is essential. Here are some crucial steps to strengthen water safety and prevent drowning incidents:


  1. **Promote Learn-to-Swim Programs:** Initiatives to provide affordable and accessible swimming lessons for people of all ages can significantly enhance water safety. By equipping individuals with swimming skills, we empower them to navigate water bodies more confidently.


  1. **Raise Public Awareness:** Conduct public awareness campaigns to educate Nigerians about the importance of water safety. Emphasize the use of life jackets, especially for non-swimmers and children, as well as the dangers of alcohol and drug consumption during water activities.


  1. **Advocate for Policy Changes:** Collaborate with government agencies and policymakers to implement regulations and standards for water safety. This includes enforcing pool fencing requirements and conducting regular safety inspections at public swimming areas.


  1. **Introduce Water Safety Education in Schools:** Incorporate water safety lessons into the curriculum at primary and secondary schools. Teaching children from a young age about water hazards and basic survival skills can instil a lifelong commitment to water safety.


  1. **Community Involvement:** Engage local communities in organizing workshops, seminars, and safety demonstrations on drowning prevention. Encouraging a collective effort to protect each other can foster a culture of safety around water.


  1. **Capacity Building:** Train lifeguards and water safety instructors to enhance the response to water-related emergencies. Equipping individuals with the skills to perform rescues and administer CPR can make a life-saving difference.


As we commemorate World Drowning Prevention Day, let us remember that drowning is a preventable tragedy that devastates families and communities. By prioritizing water safety, promoting swimming skills, and advocating for stronger regulations, we can protect countless lives in Nigeria. The collective effort of individuals, communities, and government bodies is crucial in creating a safer aquatic environment and reducing the incidence of drowning in our nation. Together, let us take the plunge towards a future where every Nigerian can enjoy water activities with confidence, knowing that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to stay safe.

Anthony Okuku, Head Coach (Swimpro Academy)