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UK swim charity backs United Nation’s historic pledge to reduce drowning

UK children’s swim charity SwimTayka has welcomed news that world governments are for the first time pledging to put more effort into drowning prevention.

UN General Assembly members have adopted an historic resolution, committing to greater efforts to prevent drowning. 

https://www.undocs.org/en/A/75/L.76

An estimated 235,600 people drown every year, although this figure excludes drownings attributable to flood-related climatic events and water transport incidents, so the actual figure is much higher. Drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children aged 5-14 years.

The UN resolution, co-sponsored by Bangladesh and Ireland and adopted by consensus by the 193-member world body, is the first to focus on drowning, establishing July 25 as ‘World Drowning Prevention Day’.

UK charity SwimTayka runs programmes in developing countries around the world, teaching children to swim. It was set up to help combat the incidence of drowning among children, who live and play near water but are never taught to swim.

“This is really good news and an important step in the ongoing fight to bring down the appalling statistics of drowning,” said Bryan Avery, Founder of SwimTayka.

“In the Western world we take learning to swim for granted, but this often isn’t part of the culture or curriculum in poorer and lower income communities in developing countries. That’s why we really need this focus and for governments to be proactive in promoting swimming programmes and drowning prevention.”

SwimTayka works alongside existing NGOs and charities in locations such as Mozambique, Brazil, Peru and Indonesia, running swimming programmes which complement the work of the NGOs.

Through the programmes – put on hold in 2020, due to Covid – hundreds of children who live near water, including oceans, rivers, lakes and canals, are taught to swim. The programmes also focus on water stewardship and looking after the environment, a message the children will then take home to their families.

Unlike UN Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect global opinion.

The assembly stressed that drowning “is preventable” using “low-cost interventions” and called on countries to consider introducing water safety, swimming and first aid lessons as part of school curricula. It is encouraging nations to appoint “a national focal point for drowning prevention”, develop countrywide prevention programmes, and enact and enforce water safety laws.

Bryan added: “There is so much that governments can do at a national level to help reduce incidence of drowning, and we believe it starts with education, and that means teaching children to swim and to be safe around and in water.”

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