Background In 2016, 16,200 people drowned in Nigeria; 22% of the continental death toll. Yet there are no state or NGO sponsored drowning prevention programmes in Nigeria targeting this unrecognised drowning crisis.
Aim To identify the risks and hazards associated with fatal drowning in Nigeria.
Methods Vanguard news online database was searched for articles reporting fatal drowning incidents between 2009–2019. Key variables including age, gender and water body were extracted from each article to create a sample of drowning victims. This dataset was then quantitatively analysed to identify hazards and risks associated with drowning.
Results 346 drowning victims were sampled from 98 articles. The male to female drowning ratio was 2.4:1. The highest number of drownings were amongst 10 to 19 year-olds; over 50% of victims were under 20-years-old. Watercraft accidents (54.9% [n=175]), followed by intentional entry into water bodies (19.1% [n=61]) were the commonest causes of drowning. Rivers, streams and creeks (60.6% [n=160]) were the commonest water bodies in which victims drowned. Wells, ponds and water containers collectively accounted for 12.9% (n=34) of drownings. The ratio of deaths occurring in the wet season compared to the dry season was 3.5:1. 13.0% (n=45) of drownings were related to flooding or heavy rainfall.
Conclusion & Learning Outcomes Children and males are particularly vulnerable. In-land water bodies pose a significant threat, with numerous deaths caused by watercraft accidents. Preliminary drowning prevention programmes targeting these vulnerable populations must be established.