How many of us can say that $150 at a construction supply store could change our lives forever? For those living in third-world conditions all over the world, one specific $150 product is completely changing lives potentially for generations to come.

The Societal Cost of Dirt Floors

Imagine never being able to escape an overall feeling of griminess and grit under your toes. Even if you washed, once your feet touched a part uncarpeted floor, you’re dirty all over again. Most of us will never experience what is like to live in a house with a dirt floor. No matter how much you would clean your home, there would be no escaping dirt and dust because that’s essentially what it’s made of. Sadly, this is the reality for the impoverished of the world. Aside from the dirt, walking on dirt floors without shoes is the number one contributor of hookworm — parasites that inhabit dirty and soil, burrow into the skin and can create infections in the intestines, lungs, and other parts of the body. While medical treatment for hookworm exists, reinfestation in inevitable and improper use of medication has led to many drug-resistant varieties. What is a country to do? One country found a very inexpensive solution that has changed lives: simply put, mixed concrete.

Piso Firme Initiative

Part of Mexico was experiencing societal dilemmas related to poverty. The health, education, and general attitude of many of the impoverished were beginning to be felt throughout the economy. In 2000, a new initiative was started called “Piso Firme”https://foreignpolicy.com/2012/01/03/paving-paradise/ — Spanish for “firm floor.” This initiative offered up to $150-worth of mixed concrete to each eligible household. The mixed concrete was delivered to each home via a concrete mixing truck that would unload the concrete right in the living room of each dirt-floor house. The team delivering the concrete would quickly instruct the inhabitants of the houses how to spread out the concrete and explain how long to wait for it to dry. What once was a dirt floor was now coated in smooth concrete that would likely last a lifetime.

What were the results of Piso Firme? As a follow-up, economists studied the impact of the Piso Firme initiative. Some of the first initial effects was a significant drop in parasitic infestations in the inhabitants of the renovated homes. This improved health led to a feeling of increased wellbeing, enhanced performance on the job, and an increase in grades for school-aged children. Parents and children alike showed much lower levels of depression and stress simply by having concrete floors in their home. A very simple $150 product that the average American can find at any hardware store completely reshaped the lives of whole populations.


As construction professionals, we’re excited to improve lives in a variety of ways. Whether you’re looking for a place where employees are excited to work, clients feel great about doing business, or a new place to call home, Cowen Construction can help.