Tanzania – Can more considered housing improve family health? It’s a question being answered by The Star Homes Project, which consists of 110 identical, single-family structures built throughout 60 villages in rural Mtwara, one of the more underdeveloped regions of the country.
‘To our knowledge, it is the first time that a new house has been used as a unit of randomisation in a clinical trial,’ say the global multidisciplinary team behind the project.
In development for over a decade, the project will explore ways to develop novel, low-cost, comfortable and insect-proof housing to enhance the health of people in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa – often with a high incidence of malaria, respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea. These houses form the basis of a trial, which aims to provide robust data to show whether improved housing can improve family health.
‘In the long term, we hope that elements of the [house’s] design, such as elevated screened bedrooms, will find broader uptake and integration in the millions of new houses required for the rapidly growing population of Africa.’
Improving health via spatial design should be a universal goal yet this project highlights how even the simplest of innovations can have a massive impact on human wellness for some of the poorest on our planet.