The issue

Drowning is a leading cause of child fatality worldwide.  In Asia, drowning claims over 350,000 children each year.

In Bangladesh children are widely exposed to many sources of open water such as ponds, ditches, rivers, lakes and the ocean.  Therefore, mortality due to drowning is higher than any other cause. The Bangladesh Health and Injury Survey (BHIS-2005) revealed that drowning is the leading cause of death among children aged 1-17 year in Bangladesh, with approximately 18,000 children dying each year.

The solution

In Bangladesh children learn swimming in the ponds with the help of their friends, relatives or they learn by themselves. Learning to swim through this process can often expose children to danger. To protect children from drowning, it is important they learn the right skills in a safe environment under the supervision of a trained instructor througha structured course.

Considering this CIPRB developed the SwimSafe programme in collaboration with Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA), The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC) and Bangladesh Swimming Federation in 2005. CIPRB is also a member of the International Life Saving Federation (ILS) & Royal Life Saving Society – Commonwealth.

The impact

Between 2006 and 2013, over 340,000 children took part in the SwimSafe programme.  Research indicated that SwimSafe provides 96% protection from drowning.

Other information

Potential candidates

Boys and girls aged 4- 10 who cannot swim or do not meet the survival swimming criteria of 25 meters swimming, treading water for 30 seconds and rescue skills are considered as potential candidates for the SwimSafe programme.

Swimming learning venues

In rural areas children learn swimming in a pond which is modified with locally available materials like bamboos and ropes. In urban areas,fixed swimming pools and portable swimming pools are used for teaching children swimming.

Swimming instructors

In both rural and urban areas swimming is taught by Community Swimming Instructors who are local youths, accepted by the community. CIPRB’s trainers train the instructors using a structure manual.


Since 2006 over 4,10,000 children have been trained in survival swimming skills with the financial support from UNICEF. In 2010, CIPRB conducted a cohort study among 54,834 SwimSafe participants; it was found that none of the swim graduates drowned.