School by Boat: Architect Brings Classrooms, and Healthcare, To Flood-Prone Bangladesh

A fleet of solar-powered boats—equipped with classrooms, healthcare, and other services—is helping reach Bangladeshis who are stranded by floods.

Every year, during monsoon season, much of low-lying Bangladesh goes underwater. As climate change causes rising sea levels, the flooding has gotten worse. When the floods come, millions of families are stranded in their homes without clean drinking water, electricity, or access to services like school or healthcare—for months at a time. Now, in some areas, the land is underwater all year long.

One way to help: boats that visit flood zones, bringing children's classrooms, libraries, healthcare, and waste management to more than 80,000 families. The boats also provide internet access, and training in sustainable agriculture, computer programs, and adaptation strategies for climate change.

The organization that runs the boats, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, was founded by architect Mohammed Rezwan. Rezwan designed the boats to adapt to changing water levels and protect the electronics inside. The boats are powered by solar panels, which Shidhulai also manufactures. The group designs and manufactures other technology, too, including bike-powered pumps and solar-powered lamps.

This year, Shidhulai won a World Innovation Summit for Education Award for its work improving Bangladeshi education. Watch the video below to see the boats in action.

Images courtesy of Mohammed Rezwan/Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha