Design Innovation for Children’s Health

In 2013 we met Ananya Rajbanngshi, a three year old Bangladeshi girl who lived with her mother and father in a one bedroom home. As a Christian family living in a predominately Hindu community surrounded by similar families in Savar, Bangladesh, Ananya’s mother, like many other homemakers in the community, spent 6-8 hours every week cleaning the dirt floors of her home. These dirt floors exposed Ananya, and other children, to a high risk of contracting parasites that cause infections such as anemia, diarrhea, and intestinal worms.

Ananya outside her home, before receiving concrete floors, 2013.

Ananya and her family outside her concrete floored home, 2014.

These parasitic infections put Ananya at an increased risk of developing dehydration, malnutrition, and decreased cognitive and physical capabilities. As a result, her chances at developing many socially needed skills, getting a proper education, job, and being able to raise a healthy family would drastically decrease. It could even kill her.

Three years after the implementation of Health From the Ground Up, an ARCHIVE led pilot project that served to replace dirt floors with concrete floors in Ananya’s community, ARCHIVE returned to Bangladesh where we saw Ananya again. She is now eight years old, and is a healthy, active child who loves to read, cook rice and eggs, ride her bike, watch cartoons on television, and play with her doll. Ananya is enrolled in at Panpara Government Primari School, and is in 1st grade. Her favorite foods are rice and fruit and she enjoys cooking in her home with her grandmother, safe from disease. Her rate of infection has drastically been reduced since the implementation of ARCHIVE’s campaign three years ago.

In Bangladesh, yearly periods of heavy rain cause fecal matter, debris, and garbage to flow through roads, fields, and homes. Dirt floors allow bacteria and parasites to linger after the rainfall, and become a breeding ground for disease.

A pilot project home before installation, 2014.

One of these common diseases, diarrheal disease, kills 10.6 per every 100,000 people every year in Bangladesh every year. Children, like Ananya, who are five years old or younger and grow up with dirt floors, are at the greatest risk of contracting these diseases. Pouring concrete flooring in these homes creates a cleanable surface from which bacteria can easily be washed off. These new floors have the additional benefit of cutting down on the amount of time spent cleaning them. Across the community, the average beneficiary woman currently spends 20 hours less every month cleaning her concrete floor than she spent cleaning her dirt floor. The women are now able to spend much more time being economically productive, benefiting both their families and their community. By implementing ARCHIVE’s Health from the Ground Up project, and building concrete floors in homes, each child’s risk of contracting anemia drops 81%.

Ananya’s cousin eats on his clean concrete floor, 2014

A flooring pilot project home, three years later, 2017.

ARCHIVE’s campaign has saved many children’s lives by bringing awareness of the impact improved flooring can have on the health of the household. ARCHIVE implemented training sessions to educate families in the community on preventative measures to keep parasitic and diarrheal disease controlled. In addition, ARCHIVE designed interventions to face the specific design challenge of parasitic and diarrheal disease in Bangladesh.

We are excited to further our mission by expanding our reach as we to help bring adaptable preventative measures that link home improvements to household health to more families throughout rural and semi-urban areas of the country. ARCHIVE is partnering with the Association of Development for Economic and Social Help (ADESH) and Grimshaw Architects to test, design, and implement innovative flooring techniques to bring more health to more Bangladeshi communities.

Educating beneficiaries on disease prevention, 2014.

By the end of 2018, our impact will have reached over 500,000 people throughout the country. Through site-specific design innovation ARCHIVE will create a strategy that is culturally sensitive while meeting the needs of the communities.

Playtime after school, 2017

Help ARCHIVE continue to give children like Ananya a clean foundation for a healthy future.

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