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Architecture Steps Up With High Fives

Most of us don’t think of flooring as a luxury item, but as a basic element of housing. However, the impact of inadequate flooring is widespread.

An effort called the High Fives Campaign is a movement by the nonprofit organization, Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE), that is determined to improve the lives of families simply by replacing the dirt floors in their homes.

With a goal date of 2015, they are seeking to completely remove dirt floors in at least 500 homes in Bangladesh so children are healthier, safer and can celebrate their fifth birthdays by decreasing the looming threat of devastating disease.

According to project statistics, this target area in Bangladesh has recipient demographics whose mean household income is an average of $130.00 U.S. per month for a family of 7.

Architecture Steps Up With High Fives

The locations were chosen for their obvious need, but also because of their climate. Flooding, high water and humidity are issues, and are all factors in worsening the spread of dangerous bacteria. Installation of adequate flooring is an immediate help in preventing a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites that can exist in dirt floor surfaces.

The homes that are selected have to meet requirement standards, including having a child who is less than 5 years old residing in the premises. They also must have an adult caregiver who is also impoverished and at least one person in the home that can assist in the construction of the new floor.

The home size in Panpara and Nayapara, communities in the region, is typically 389 square feet.

The flooring is made with local supplies of concrete, brick and sand. These materials were chosen for their durability and easy care. The complete installation only takes about 4 days and after a drying period it is ready to be used. A protective retaining wall is also constructed around the exterior of the home.

Architecture Steps Up With High Fives Architecture Steps Up With High Fives Architecture Steps Up With High Fives

Removing a dirt floor and replacing it with concrete provides preventative measures that can lessen sickness, respiratory problems and mortality onset by diarrhoeal diseases, which is directly responsible for 9% of all childhood deaths occurring under the age of 5. This is a common problem, with more than half of households in the targeted area who have stated at least one family member, usually a child, has had a recent episode.

Reducing disease and creating a healthier atmosphere also reinforces positive development, and can drastically enhance cognitive learning and skillsets in children. The campaign points to studies that have concluded that having basic flooring alone can decrease childhood disease and parasites by as much as 75%. Additionally, when families are healthier, they do not need to spend money that is often sparse on medications or healthcare.

ARCHiVE Global also has active projects in Cameroon, Haiti and the United Kingdom, with plans for specific areas in Brazil and the United States.

When humanitarian efforts and architecture unite forces real change can take place, making a real impact.

Architecture Steps Up With High Fives

All images are via ARCHIVE Global.

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