Every year almost 13,000 children die from drowning. It accounts for 43% of deaths among children between the ages of one and four.
On average 30 children under five who are not even grown enough to learn swimming die from drowning each day.
Experts say reducing the number of deaths is essential to achieve the UN SDG goal, which is possible through family awareness, and joint government-private-NGO cooperation.
The revelations came at the "National Dialogue on Drowning Prevention" in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Campaign for Popular Education (Campe), Bangladesh ECD Network, CIPRB, and SoMaSHTe jointly organised the programme in collaboration with Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI).
"We wish to bring down children's death from drowning to zero in the same way we have successfully reduced the maternal and child mortality rates. We are working on this critical child safety issue," said State Minister for the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Fazilatun Nessa Indira.
"The government has already identified the child drowning deaths as a serious concern and prioritises prevention. We have already taken 16 district child safety plan for 2 lakh children. Around 3.60 children will be provided with swimming lesson at an early age."
She said some isolated initiatives begun at different times in some districts.
"My ministry has submitted a DPP (Detailed Project Proposal) in relation to saving our children from drowning. We will try to take necessary actions to get it approved as soon as possible," said Indira.
"The Ministry of Women and Child Affairs can't implement drowning prevention activities alone. We need to collaborate with other ministries like education, health, local government, and social welfare."
Kelly Larsen, director of Drowning Prevention Programme of Bloomberg Philanthropies, said, "We found that supervision and providing community daycare to under four years old reduced drowning death by 88%. We are happy to see that the Government of Bangladesh is supporting a nationwide drowning prevention strategy."
Executive Director of Campe Rasheda K Choudhury, who chaired the programme, said, "If the government engages NGOs in its drowning prevention programme, then it would be helpful to ensure maximum coverage with community participation. We hope the government will approve the drowning prevention strategy and the DPP within a short period."
Bangladesh has pledged to reduce the under-5 mortality rate to 25 per thousand children by 2030 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Apart from deaths caused by diseases, many children die due to drowning in Bangladesh, which is very much preventable. It is important for Bangladesh to reduce child drowning deaths so that the country can keep a promise to reduce child mortality as targeted in the SDG. By raising awareness and taking collaborative actions, it is possible to save many lives from drowning.
Dr Aminur Rahman, deputy executive director, Center for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB), deaths from drowning occur within 20 metres from home.
"Most incidents of child drowning occur in ditches and ponds in rural areas. Lack of supervision is a key risk factor for child drowning. Sixty percent of accidents occur between 9am to 1pm when parents are busy with family responsibility," he added.