Drowning prevention and water safety in Sri Lanka

Continuing its ongoing work in Sri Lanka, Life Saving Victoria representatives recently travelled to the island nation to conduct a series of workshops to assist in framing the National Action Plan for Drowning Prevention and Water Safety in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has the 12th highest drowning rate out of 61 countries and 10th highest when compared with 35 Low and Middle Income Countries. To address this issue, Sri Lanka’s National Council for Disaster Management and the Interim Management Council for Disaster Management formed a National Advisory Committee.

A series of workshops called: Towards a National Action Plan: Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Sri Lanka were held from 3-7 July, hosted by the National Disaster Centre (DMC).  Areas of focus included:

  • Developing a drowning data surveillance system;
  • Developing and implementing a national Swim for Safety program;
  • Developing national pool safety guidelines; and
  • Developing risk profiles for open waterways.

Life Saving Victoria’s Principal Research Associate Dr Bernadette Matthews said the workshops were a positive step in reducing the drowning rate in Sri Lanka.

“This is a major step in Sri Lanka and internationally for drowning prevention and water safety,” she said.

“The Sri Lankan National Disaster Centre has taken a leading role that can build on the grass-roots level work Sri Lanka Life Saving, together with Life Saving Victoria have done to date in Sri Lanka.

“The input from all involved was so valuable, and it was heartening to see so many people taking the time to work together on this health and safety issue.”

Representatives included Sri Lankan officials from government, emergency services, industry, academia and non-profit organisations, with expert technical advice being provided by LSV Risk and Research staff members Dr Matthews and Rhiannon Birch and Sri Lanka Life Saving.

At the recent LSV Awards of Excellence, International Lifesaving Federation medals were presented to Life Saving Victoria as an organisation along with Dr Matthews and Norman Farmer ESM, for their ongoing work in drowning prevention and water safety for Sri Lanka.

As part of LSV’s Building Leaders program, a group of young Victorians will be travelling to Sri Lanka in September for the sixth consecutive year.

The Building Leaders program culminates with two weeks of training delivery in Sri Lanka, where participants will help improve the skills of local lifesavers, trainers and swim teachers.

LSV works internationally sharing expertise in water safety and is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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