National Sea Rescue Institute

Saving Lives and Preventing Drowning in South Africa

Lead Organization

National Sea Rescue Institute

Cape Town, Province of the Western Cape, South Africa

http://www.searescue.org.za

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Drowning is a serious and neglected public health threat, claiming the lives of 360,000 people worldwide per annum, making it the world’s third leading cause of unintentional mortality. (WHO, 2017) There are approximately 2,000 fatal drownings per year in South Africa, 600 of which are children. It is estimated that another 20,000 people per year experience a near-drowning incident, many of whom do not fully recover. The NSRI rescues over 1,500 people from drowning each year, and prevent many others through our education and training programs. Our goal is to prevent drowning through education, preventative measures and sea rescue. In 2018 99.6% of NSRI's beneficiaries were historically marginalized people. These beneficiaries were taught water safety education or rescued from drowning. Our education program teaches children in poor communities as these are the children most likely to drown. Our prevention and rescue programs are set up in high risk areas.

Problem Statement

There are approximately 2,000 fatal drownings per year in South Africa, 600 of which are children. It is estimated that another 20,000 people per year experience a near-drowning incident, many of whom do not fully recover. The NSRI rescues over 1,500 people from drowning each year, and prevent many others through our education and training programs. The problem exists because of lack of education and resources to be safe in and around water, especially in marginalzied and disadvantaged communities. Our goal is to prevent drowning through education, through preventative measures and sea rescue. Our Water Safety instructors visit children specifically in poor communities where access to information is limited and the need for water safety education is great. Statistics show us that these are the children most likely to be at risk of drowning. Our water safety program was piloted in 2006 and annual growth has now reached a scale of nearly 500,000 children per annum. But we need to do more. There are 15 million children in South Africa and if we reach 1 million children per year, then every child will have had water safety and survival swimming instruction by the time they leave school. The biggest impact can be made by reaching children and teaching them how to be safe in and around water.

Solution Overview

Our instructors visit schools twice a year to reinforce the water safety lesson and to check the retention of knowledge. During these visits we collect anecdotal evidence regarding drownings amongst the school children and we have found that after the first lesson that there are fewer fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents. Stories of successful peer rescues and resuscitations reinforce that our approach to teaching children about water safety is working. In conjunction with our Water Safety School Education programme we are going to launch our Survival Swimming programme during summer 2019/2020 which will teach non swimmers how to control their breathing and not panic, how to orientate themselves and get to a place where they can either stand or support themselves. During 2018, the footprint of our rescue services grew by five rescue stations and with more than 200 volunteers. Because of this presence, our ability to serve communities has grown, and our impact has increased. We will know that we are making progress when we see a reduction in the number of both fatal and non-fatal drownings in South Africa.The impact of our solution will effect the entire population of South Africa. For every life saved, there is a knock-on effect for a family and community that has retained a breadwinner (economic), and children and spouses who will continue to receive the nurture and love that would not have been there if we did not exist.

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Project Funders

  • National, provincial and local government Ongoing - Ongoing

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