Most of us take for granted the fact that we can walk barefoot across our living room floor and not end up with a life-threatening disease, but that’s far from the case in many regions of the world. Every year, over 6 million children die from diarrheal, skin, and respiratory diseases that they contracted from the parasites, viruses, and bacteria living in the dirt floor of their homes. In Bangladesh alone, 100,000 children under the age of five die from these diseases every year… but there’s a NYC-based non-profit group working to change that. Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE) just launched its “High Fives” initiative to replace dirt floors with concrete in that region in order to reduce disease-causing pathogens from infiltrating homes. The initiative is so named because of its goal to help at-risk children reach their fifth birthdays.
A similar flooring project done in Mexico found that completely replacing dirt floors with concrete resulted in an 80 percent reduction in both parasitic infection and anemia, and over 95 percent improvement in children’s cognitive development. Additionally, diarrheal infection was reduced by nearly 50 percent. ARCHIVE teamed up with NGO ADESH and implemented this design intervention in Bangladesh earlier this year, which involved 10 families receiving concrete floors and 130 community members receiving hygiene training. Within the four weeks following the concrete floor installation, not one participating household reported an episode of diarrhea in their young children.
ARCHIVE is hoping to replace the dirt floors of 500 homes in Bangladesh by 2015. To learn more about this initiative, please visit their website.
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