Why we want to end drowning worldwide

The scale of the global drowning problem is a human disaster too big for us to ignore.

Although the problem can seem overwhelming, the solutions are often low-cost, simple and have a high impact. A 2012 study found that swimming lessons in Bangladesh reduced a child’s chance of drowning by 93%. We’re helping to run a series of similar lessons in Cox’s Bazar that cost just £21 per child.

Why the RNLI?

The RNLI’s work in the UK and Ireland will remain a core focus of attention and resources. But we also believe it’s our duty to share years of lifesaving knowledge and experience, so that we can make a difference worldwide.

An RNLI trainer watches lifeguard training in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh

Photo: RNLI/Mike Lavis

An RNLI trainer takes part in a lifeguard training session in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. The RNLI is sharing its expertise with partners who run their own lifesaving services worldwide.

By our 200th anniversary in 2024, we are seeking a clear national commitment to take action on drowning in countries that account for 25% of the global drowning burden.

Almost 200 years ago, RNLI founder Sir William Hillary foresaw an organisation that extended its views ‘from our own immediate coasts to the most remote quarters of the globe’. Today, our international vision is of a world in which no-one should drown.

Could you help us towards this vision? You can make a gift today or email us if your organisation is looking for advice.

The story so far

In order to make the biggest impact, we’re now focusing our efforts on a select number of countries that are worst affected by drowning.

But in different ways, the RNLI has been working internationally for decades. Read how the RNLI became an international lifesaver or discover some of the people we’ve worked with along the way.

  • How we can help end drowning
    A boy holding a plastic container float during an Aquatic Survival lesson in Nungwi, Zanzibar
    The RNLI's international approach

    The RNLI isn’t delivering lifesaving services directly - the issue is far bigger than the reach of one organisation. Instead, we work with governments and other organisations committed to reducing drowning.

    How we can help end drowning