Each year 6.5 million children around the world die from diseases directly related to substandard housing conditions. Dirt floors in particular are carriers of parasites, bacteria, and viruses contributing to many fatal diseases. In response to this and with the aim of dramatically reducing child mortality rates, New York-based non-profit Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE), has launched a new initiative to replace dirt flooring with concrete in Bangladesh.
Learn more about the initiative after the break.
Founded in 2007, ARCHIVE Global was conceived from a three-year independent research project funded by Columbia University and awarded to the organization’s Founder and Executive Director, Peter Williams. ARCHIVE Global's mission is to provide disadvantaged populations with housing and consequently improve health conditions for those living in developing countries. The burdens that come with poor health and poor housing are inherently related, but have historically been addressed as independent issues.
ARCHIVE Global's research initially focused on issues related to living conditions for people with HIV/AIDS, public health policy, urban planning, and architecture in South Africa. Now, their newest initiative entitled "High Fives: Foundations for the Future," aims to tackle issues of childhood mortality related to dirt flooring in Bangladesh.
Dirt floors are a common feature in low-cost housing in both rural and urban areas of the developing world. The viruses and bacteria these floors carry can cause diarrhea, skin, and respiratory diseases that are particularly dangerous for young children, and often fatal. A simple change such as replacing dirt floors with concrete can have a dramatic impact, as diarrhea alone kills 100,000 people each year in Bangladesh, a majority of which are children under five. According to Williams, as part of this initiative, “ARCHIVE has developed a simple, cost-effective housing design that can be quickly implemented to drastically impact the rate at which children are dying.”
It is already clear that these steps deliver substantial reductions in health issues related to dirt flooring. ARCHIVE cites, “A similar flooring project done in Mexico found that complete substitution of dirt floors by concrete floors results in a 78% reduction in parasitic infestation, 49% reduction in diarrhea, 81% reduction in anemia, and up to a 96% improvement in cognitive development.” The organization piloted their most recent design in February 2014 in partnership with the local Bangladeshi NGO ADESH, and in a mere two weeks 10 families received concrete floors.
To learn more about the initiative or to donate, visit ARCHIVE’s website here.