RNLI teaching Kenyan youngsters how to swim

RNLI training Mombasa
Lifeguards training with a rescue tube in Mombasa, Kenya. Photo: RNLI

The UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has been working in Kenya since 2008 teaching boys and girls aged nine to 17 how to survive in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and are also given water safety classes in school.

They began working with volunteer lifeguards in Kenya when it became clear that drowning in coastal communities was an increasing problem. The RNLI discovered that training was non-existent and while equipment was ingeniously improvised, it was also very basic. Old windsurf boards were being used as rescue boards and palm trees as flagpoles.

Two lifeguard trainers visited Kenya in 2008 to help equip 16 local people with essential lifesaving skills as part of the Crisis Response Development Foundation’s maritime community project.

They spent an initial two weeks at a public beach in Mombasa, where they taught a group of Kenyan people to become lifesavers.

The lifeguard trainers returned in 2009 to deliver Train the Trainer sessions, enabling the Kenyan lifeguards to share their skills with others and help secure the long-term future of lifeguarding in the country.

Since delivering RNLI training at Jomo Kenyatta beach in Mombasa, the number of drownings reduced from an average of three a month.

Now with delegates from Kenya attending our Future Leaders in Lifesaving courses as part of the Aquatic Survival Programme, the RNLI are helping to develop maritime safety awareness, infrastructure and capacity, and response to maritime incidents within the coastal communities of Kenya.