In the past decade, 2.5 million people have drowned. And over 90% of these deaths occurred in lower-income countries like South Africa. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In April 2021, the UN General Assembly officially declared 25 July 2021 as World Drowning Prevention Day to be celebrated annually!
This announcement came after the UN approved the first-ever global Drowning Prevention resolution. World Drowning Prevention Day highlights the impact of drowning on our communities, including remembering loved ones lost to drowning and educates people about the solutions to prevent it.
The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation South Africa is particularly excited about this global advocacy event, as we feel so strongly about drowning prevention. Her Serene Highness (HSH) Princess Charlene of Monaco says, “My heart breaks for families who have lost a loved one simply because they didn’t have the means to teach them to swim. I started my Foundation to prevent this heartache.
“We must fight drowning from every possible angle, including physically teaching our children to swim and educating and empowering them. There is much more to do, but together, we will continue to save lives,” HSH concludes.
Learning to swim and education around water safety is vital to drowning prevention in South Africa. As the UN’s resolution states, “Anyone can drown, no one should” and “Every drowning is preventable”! Therefore, our Foundation will continue its lifesaving work with our partners and you.
How you can help prevent drowning
The UN’s resolution mentions six interventions that can be implemented to prevent drowning:
- Install barriers to control access to water
- Provide safe places away from water for children to play. Children should ALWAYS be supervised when near water
- Teach basic swimming, water safety, and rescue skills
- Train bystanders in safe rescue and CPR
- Set and enforce safe boating, shipping, and ferry regulations, including wearing personal flotation devices, and
- Build resilience and manage flood risks and other hazards
If you are unsure about any of these interventions or need further information, you can follow our Foundation’s social media pages for updated, relevant news and information on drowning prevention.
World Drowning Prevention Day presents us with an opportunity to create change locally, nationally, regionally, and globally! As a Foundation, we are committed to:
- provide swimming lessons to underprivileged children
- create a safe water environment by revitalising derelict state swimming pools
- educate our children about water safety through providing materials, such as the Lifesaving South Africa booklet, and
- empower our ambassadors, partners, and affiliates to make a difference in their communities.
What can you do to help?
Firstly, spread the key messages surrounding drowning prevention as mentioned in this article. A coherent message is one of the most powerful weapons to advance drowning prevention in public and political agendas.
Secondly, when you share your drowning prevention messages, use the hashtags #DrowningPrevention, #PCMFSA, and #educate2gether, and tag the Foundation, the World Health Organisation, and the UN. You can also use the slogan, “Anyone can drown, no one should”. We’d love to flood social media platforms with the good news that every drowning is preventable!
Lastly, remember. Remember those we’ve lost to this silent killer. Remember who we are fighting for. It doesn’t matter if you remember them through remembrance ceremonies, charity events, school-based initiatives, or campaigns to raise awareness about drowning prevention and water safety – just remember.
We’re excited to observe the first World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July with people and organisations that will say, “Enough is enough”, and then do something about it! Together, we will prevent drowning! If you would like to get involved, please visit www.pcmfsa.com to support the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation South Africa, our partners, affiliates, and ambassadors in this lifesaving work.
About the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation South Africa
Sport has the power to inspire young people and transform lives. This central idea prompted Princess Charlene of Monaco to launch a foundation that would work to end death and disease caused by water fatalities. The Foundation focuses on the fact that drowning is a preventable epidemic that predominantly affects children and youth. In the six years since its inception, the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation has established 149 projects in 33 countries, reaching nearly half a million people, mostly children.
These programmes raise awareness about the crucial issue of water safety and teach people to swim. The Foundation also uses the transformative power of sport’s positive values by giving children access to various sporting disciplines. Its Sport and Education initiatives include providing financial support to talented athletes who lack the funds to realise their dreams.
In South Africa, the Foundation has implemented projects in Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal, and Gauteng. These projects reach out to underprivileged youth and teach them how to enjoy the benefits of sport in a safe and controlled manner. Thus far, the Foundation has worked with thousands of South African youth. Through the efforts of the SA chapter of the Foundation, many more young lives will benefit. The Foundation’s valuable work also extends to children from disabled communities, who are often marginalised and neglected.