Global Drowning Research and Prevention

Image of boats in a large body of water

Image shows children playing and splashing in a river

Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, claiming an estimated 236,000 lives each year.1

Over 90% of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with children under the age of five being at highest risk.2

CDC collaborates with the CDC Foundationexternal icon and Bloomberg Philanthropiesexternal icon on global drowning work to confront this vast problem.

Bloomberg Philanthropies launched its Global Drowning Prevention Programexternal icon in 2012. CDC, the CDC Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and other partners aim to adapt and improve local drowning prevention measures by collecting and analyzing data to understand the specific causes of drowning.


Drowning death rates in the African region are estimated to be the highest in the world. Yet, data collection and surveillance for drowning in African countries are limited.3

In response, CDC partnered with the CDC Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2018 to understand and prevent drowning in Uganda.

With technical assistance from CDC, CDC Foundation collaborated with Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda) to collect data from 60 districts in Uganda by accessing existing administrative records on drowning cases in district police offices, marine police detachments, fire and rescue detachments, and the largest mortuaries in those districts.

In-depth interviews were conducted with families, friends, and witnesses of people who drowned in 14 of those 60 districts. The information was used to determine how many people drowned, and under what circumstances.

The data collected will help improve our understanding of how drownings happen in Uganda and help inform a drowning prevention strategy for the country.

Read more about this research: Drowning in Uganda: examining data from administrative sourcesexternal icon.

uganda infographic

Image of children fetching and carrying water

CDC partnered with the CDC Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies to conduct a similar study in Ghana.

In 2020, the study team began working remotely with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana to begin planning for the next drowning prevention study.

Resources from the World Health Organization
  1. World Health Organization (WHO). Drowning fact sheet [online]. Available at: icon
  2. World Health Organization (WHO). Global report on drowning: preventing a leading killer [online]. Available at: icon
  3. Clemens T, Oporia F, Parker EM, et al. Drowning in Uganda: examining data from administrative sources. Injury Prevention Published Online First: 26 February 2021. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2020-044131