28 June 2018
Just one inch of water: The silent drowning epidemic
Drowning is a silent epidemic that claims an estimated 360,000 lives every year, most of them children.
In Asia and the Pacific, water shapes the lives and the livelihoods of its people. From dawn until dusk, life there depends on the rivers and the oceans. But all it takes for a child to drown is one inch of water.
It could be a toddler slipping into a pond while their mother goes about her daily chores, a group of children walking to school through rice paddies, or a community hit by flooding.
In many parts of Asia, drowning is now the leading killer of children over the age of 1. In Bangladesh, more than 40 children drown every day.
This global killer is on the rise. And it’s not getting the attention it deserves.
Anybody can drown, but nobody should
We can prevent drowning. And we must prevent drowning.
There are plenty of proven and tested ways to do this, from putting up barriers to control access to water, to creating day care centres for pre-school children, and teaching survival and swimming skills to school children.
But in order to make these plans a reality, we need political will, action and technical support. We need to make drowning prevention a global priority.
To get this issue onto the international political stage, we are working hard with governments across the world to secure the first ever UN resolution on drowning prevention.
And to raise awareness, we’re organising a photo exhibition at the United Nations headquarters in New York, highlighting the fact that a child can drown in an inch of water. It will feature photographs from three countries with some of the highest drowning rates in the world: Thailand, Bangladesh and Fiji.
The stunning images were shot by acclaimed photographers Zackary Canepari, Poulomi Basu and GMB Akash, who were briefed to capture the ways local communities use and live around the water. The exhibition will be open to the public from Thursday 28 June to Sunday 29 July.
You can see more of the photographs below:
You don’t need to drop in at the UN to see the rest of the photographs. Browse the Just One Inch of Water exhibition online here.
The RNLI is working with global leaders, public health organisations and at-risk communities to help turn the tide on drowning and reduce this staggering loss of life. Find out more about the international work we do.