Drowning is the leading cause of death among children in Cambodia. It is estimated that over 1,900 children die from drowning every single year (UNICEF; special repost on child injury 2012). Most children drown before age four in rural areas within 20 meters of their homes. In most areas of the country communities do not have indoor plumbing or piped water in their homes. This forces families to use wells, streams, ponds and other bodies of water for every-day uses such as collecting drinking water, washing clothing, bathing, etc. Drowning usually occurs at a very young age to children who escape the supervision of their caretakers and play and drown in these unprotected water sources. Older children often swim alone or with peers of the same age who similarly do not have swimming, rescue or resuscitation skills. They drown within the community without the possibility of rescue from community members.
Studies show that between 90-95% of deaths from drowning are not even reported, treated, or seen at health- care facilities which indicates that the estimated figures for drowning mortality among children are grossly underestimated. Asia contains almost two-thirds of the world's children and the highest rates of child mortality due to drowning. Drowning needs to be an urgent international health policy priority.
Our mission at SAFE Waters Cambodia is to combat this widespread and relatively unknown drowning epidemic by teaching Water Safety Education, Survival Swimming, Resuscitation (CPR) and Safe Rescue Skills, while simultaneously campaigning for community and global awareness and support. We are working with local schools and organizations to reach children in need of these important life skills.