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Drowning in Uganda: examining data from administrative sources


Background Drowning death rates in the African region are estimated to be the highest in the world. Data collection and surveillance for drowning in African countries are limited. We aimed to establish the availability of drowning data in multiple existing administrative data sources in Uganda and to describe the characteristics of drowning based on available data.

Methods We conducted a retrospective descriptive study in 60 districts in Uganda using existing administrative records on drowning cases from January 2016 to June 2018 in district police offices, marine police detachments, fire/rescue brigade detachments, and the largest mortuary in those districts. Data were systematically deduplicated to determine and quantify unique drowning cases.

Results A total of 1435 fatal and non-fatal drowning cases were recorded; 1009 (70%) in lakeside districts and 426 (30%) in non-lakeside districts. Of 1292 fatal cases, 1041 (81%) were identified in only one source. After deduplication, 1283 (89% of recorded cases; 1160 fatal, 123 non-fatal) unique drowning cases remained. Data completeness varied by source and variable. When demographic characteristics were known, fatal victims were predominantly male (n=876, 85%), and the average age was 24 years. In lakeside districts, 81% of fatal cases with a known activity at the time of drowning involved boating.

Conclusion Drowning cases are recorded in administrative sources in Uganda; however, opportunities to improve data coverage and completeness exist. An improved understanding of circumstances of drowning in both lakeside and non-lakeside districts in Uganda is required to plan drowning prevention strategies.

  • drowning
  • low-middle income country
  • mortality
  • surveillance
  • epidemiology

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. Data may be available upon reasonable request from the CDC

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