Maternal Mortality

Maternal Health of remote rural and poor women: Design Interventions in Community Settings

Research Project

  • Pilot Project: Field research in Assam, Grant Funding- Design Research Institute
  • Design Studio: Fifth Goal
  • Conference Paper
  • DP12 Submission
  • DIY Pads Event
  • Maternal Health Cloth Probes, Sophie Gaur Studio for illustrations


  • The Action NorthEast Trust, The ANT (Bongaigaon, Assam)
  • RGNM Guwahati
  • SEWA Ahmedabad
  • IIT Guwahati
  • UNICEF New Delhi


Developing design projects with the context of the social determinants of health focussed upon Maternal Deaths within communities of the remote and rural poor.

The images show examples of the Maternal Health Cloths. These artefacts are design to serve as Probes to be used in field work engagements with local populations in remote communities. Facilitating story telling and the development of a shared responsibility for individual outcomes, the cloths change the narrative and privilege a reflection from each participant.

The Project to look at Maternal Health in India began in December 2009. By June of the same year, this had become a research project, with a group of academics who were looking at interventions from the perspective of industrial design, midwifery, community health, medicine and nursing. In July the project opened up opportunities for students of design to come in and work on the issue. Titled Fifth Goal (inspired by MDG5 and the idea of the fifth goal which sounded quite topical during the soccer World Cup in Johannesburg) the project developed twenty solutions focussed upon improving maternal health outcomes.

The Fifth Goal was a Propositional Project. It aimed to answer the question – What can Design do about Maternal Health? Projects were ‘industry’ linked – as in each project is designed to lead up to a funded project. Funded by an agency -where the recipient of the funding would be an NGO working locally in communities. In 2010 – the trail project was a studio in Melbourne, Australia – focussed upon Assam in India. The project is under development – and open to new sites, new designers and new contexts of implementation.




Ongoing. Exploring local and further applications.