Stopping Disease With A Simple Innovation: New Floors
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
A Stanford University student re-invents an ancient earthen material–adobe–to work well in a country where dirt floors can cause death.
Replacing dirt floors in developing world homes has proven health benefits. Putting down a hard, impermeable substance like concrete reduces parasites and bacteria that build up in open soil. One UC Berkeley and World Bank study looking at a cheap concrete flooring program in Mexico reported large reductions in parasitic infestations, diarrhea incidents, and anemia–all from putting down a material that’s plentiful in most places.
When Gayatri Datar went to Rwanda as part of a Stanford University Design School field trip and saw that 80% of homes had earth floors, she naturally thought concrete was the simple solution. But concrete is expensive in this landlocked East African nation. To cover an entire space could cost up to $500–roughly two months salary for the average person. So, when she got back to California, she worked on cheaper alternatives.