Using a flax seed oil which dries like a resin much improves the lives of those with dirt floors.
Earth Enable, I’d never heard of them, which is not surprising since they operate mainly in Rwanda and Uganda, but what they do is something that is bound to be of interest to anyone who cares about poverty and how to improve the lives of the poor. Earth Enable builds floors. That in itself may not sound revolutionary but it ended up being. Dirt floors invite disease. They cannot be cleaned properly, they do not show up the fecal matter that may be there for instance and when it rains they can turn to mud. The people who live with dirt floors cough and are more prone to health issues such as diarrhea, particularly the children. And of course there is also the issue of comfort and dignity. So Gayatri Datar and Rick Zuzow along with a group of Stanford University students found an answer. Zuzow invented a flax seed oil which, when after it is applied, dries like a resin. It can be easily cleaned and it is cheap–2 to 3 dollars a square foot or about 50 dollars per home. The people can pay it all at once or it can be stretched over several months. In the past floors could be covered by cement, but cement floors can be more than 3 times the cost and are not environment friendly. The dirt floor conversion began in Rwanda, and some floors have also been converted in neighboring Uganda. The flax seed has been imported from India but they now plan to grow it in not far away Kenya so that the whole endeavor can be more local. Earth Enable which began in 2014 is now a known and respected construction company branching out wherever it can be of use, in Mexico for example. Regardless of where it continues going, it’s an amazing story not only solving the problem of dirt floors but solving it with climate friendly flax seed oil!