In 4 days, our first trial in Zambia comes to an end - and it's the time of year to say 'Thanks' to everyone who has helped us, see what we have achieved and look ahead to what we can do next year.
Two years ago, as non-health professionals, Simon and I set out to see whether we could design an attractive, affordable, anti-diarrhoea kit, containing ORS and Zinc, to save children's lives. Those 2 years have transported our designs from our kitchen table to the United Nations, taken 25,000 'Kit Yamoyo' to some of the remotest communities in Zambia, and have now taken Simon to Uganda, India and South Africa to guage future interest (while I'm here writing the end of project reports!).
We could hardly have guessed when we began that in our first trial areas, we would:
There is still more work to do, and on December 1, we will be ready to start Phase 2. Two of our major funders have now confirmed support, and we will have the final piece in place in a week or so. Our ambition is to cover the whole of Zambia in 3 years - including communities in towns and the city of Lusaka.
ColaLife - Simon and I - plan to stay in Zambia for another year, helping our local frontline NGO partners to develop the market in their area, and our Zambian manufacturing partner, Pharmanova, to scale up production to serve the emerging market for Kit Yamoyo. And when Simon gets back from his travels, will we have another country to take on the challenge? Meanwhile, our brand new product now has its very own barcode: we hope that the big supermarket chains here will also buy Kit Yamoyo - creating the economies of scale we need to drive down the price. We now know that more that 2/3 of mothers and carers in our trial areas are willing to pay K5.00 (about a dollar) for the kit at their local shop, rather than carrying their sick child many kilometres to the health centre. And for those who can't afford it, we know that giving vouchers out will create demand and encourage shop-keepers to bring the kit to remote communities.
That's where YOU come in: as we start the holiday season, why not buy a pack of ten Kit Yamoyo AidPods on behalf of your friends and colleagues? Just $10 will buy ten vouchers for mothers in rural villages, and each voucher will put money into the hands of a local shop keeper and life-saving medicine into a mother's hands.
Send your greeting by email or print your gift card here.
Jane and Simon
A note on the data in this post
Cited data are interim results from the ColaLife Operational Trial in Zambia (COTZ) and do not reflect the final report which will be published as Ramchandani et al. Final calculations may vary.
Great news this month!
Firstly, we have recieved a very generous donation from Packaging World and Healthcare Packaging, to help us co-fund 5,000 more Kit Yamoyo Aidpods! This means we can raise our target again - to help at least 20,000 children in our next phase - which we hope to begin this December.
Secondly, Claire Ward, Director of a documentary about our work The Cola Road, has won Best Director at the AOF film festival in California. The Cola Road was Claire's first documentary, made as part of her Masters project. Although ColaLife is very small, we do love to involve young people from across the world where we can, to support their career and help our cause. It's great to see a 'win-win' like this, and we have another one in the pipeline that we hope to announce next month!
Rohit Ramchandani, another of our fantastic young collaborators and doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins University, is with us in Zambia at the moment. He's out in the field for 12-15 hours at a time in remote areas - a full day's travel from the capital, Lusaka - overseeing and supporting the evaluation team as they go from house to house collecting data for our endline survey. After our first year, what impact are we having? We can't wait to see the results. Every evening he phones us - when he can get through - with stories and insights from distant communities who are using Kit Yamoyo to save their children's lives. It's early in the process, but things are looking good.
Finally, YOU can help us this month! Each new recurring donation pledged before 30th August will be matched for this month only, by an anonymous donor. You can double your impact, pledging as little as $10 or up to $200 - provided it recurrs for at least 4 months. Every little helps, and recurring donations, however small, help us to plan ahead and work even smarter!
With many thanks for your continued support!
Jane and Simon Berry
After only 8 months with Global Giving, YOU have helped us to raise nearly $10,000 - enough to co-fund Kit Yamoyo AidPods for 10,000 Zambian children. Thank you!
As the project in Zambia is going really well, our donor agencies* are now looking at supporting us in a scale-up across the country. And they are very impressed by the co-funding raised by you - across USA, UK and beyond. So, we are increasing our target of co-funding 10,000 AidPods to 15,000. We know that with your help we can acheive this.
Why is it so important for children in remote, rural areas to have easy access to one of our AidPods via a local shop?
In Zambia, diarrhoea in children is not just a nuisance. It's a killer - of around 11,000 children a year. It also steals a child's potential - those who are stunted by age 2 cannot reverse the damage, and will never meet their full potential of physical and mental development. Nearly half of all children in Zambia are stunted and diarrhoea is a big contributing factor.
So, what can a mother do? In the whole of Zambia (13 million people) there are fewer than 70 retail pharmacies - and nearly all are in the main towns. Nearly half of the rural population live more than 5km walk to a pubic health clinic. Even if a mother with a sick child walks that far, the chances are that she will find even basic medicines out of stock. So, we've trained over 80 shop keepers in remote rural areas to stock Kit Yamoyo and advise their customers on what to do. They have so far sold an amazing 23,000 Kits - containing Oral Rehydration Salts, an essential micronutrient - Zinc - and soap. This is bringing health as well as wealth into the local economy.
Our latest results show, that by supplying Kit Yamoyo AidPods in local village shops in Zambia, we have:
* Donor agencies for the first trial - reported here - include the UK's Department for International Development; Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust, Grand Challenges Canada, and COMESA/TMSA, with advice and support from a range of corporates and UNICEF. You can help us fund the next phase!
2013 has been a fantastic year so far for ColaLife and our work in Zambia, thanks to our many supporters all over the world. Not only have we won two major awards, but the first solid data is coming in from our midline evaluation and it is looking promising.
Going out into the field is a challenge – with treacherous roads and 12 hour days; setting off at dawn and returning after dark. Yet, in all, our survey team of 20 local enumerators and their supervisors visited over 2,500 households and nearly 80 of our retailers.
Our evaluation is being managed by UNICEF Zambia and executed in the field by a local organization called RuralNet Associates. The evaluation was designed and is being led by ColaLife's Public Health Advisor and our Canadian Principal Investigator, Rohit Ramchandani, who is using the research as the basis for his doctoral thesis at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
The midline data is in the process of being analyzed, but here's an early glimpse especially for our GlobalGiving supporters:
Since we began distributing Kit Yamoyo in September 2012, the retailers we have trained have bought over 21,000 of our ‘Kit Yamoyo’ AidPods – in two of the most rural and under-served districts in Zambia, where the public sector really struggles to get medicines distributed. This represents total micro-retailer investment of 80,000 Kwacha (or just under $15,000). Three quarters of our retailers said they had Kit Yamoyo in stock at the time of the survey; this is very encouraging in a country where stock outs are common in local clinics, and where mothers have to carry their sick children long distances, only to find there is no medicine available.
It is easy to see why our retailers are investing their limited resources in ‘Kit Yamoyo’: not only is it helping to address the number one concern in their communities – childhood diarrhoea – but also each one is earning on average $14 a month gross profit. That's a lot in a rural household - and can mean the difference between well-nourished and under-nourished children. Our top retailers are earning an astounding $50-$70 a month gross profit. Our aim is to encourage this independence and sustainability for the long term.
Gladys is a rural health worker in a remote part of rural Kalomo, where ColaLife is trialling the sale of Kit Yamoyo – our new anti-diarrhea Kit, specially designed for African mothers to use at home for their children under five. We know from our recent research, that diarrhea is a persistent issue for young children here; leading to malnutrition, stunting, poor intellectual development and even death.
Five months into our first trial – and with over 15,000 Kit Yamoyos already purchased by small rural retailers - we visited Gladys at Kalonda Health Centre to see what she thought about Kit Yamoyo being sold in shops in her area.
Anxious to hear the views of people on the ground, we spoke to retailers, local health workers and mothers. No product will succeed if it misses the mark in some way. What do Health Centre staff feel about Kit Yamoyo? Do they see selling in shops as competition for their services? What do mothers say about Kit Yamoyo? Are they seeing any change – and is it for the better?
We will know the answers to these questions fully in just a few weeks' time: our local research team go into the field at the end of March, to conduct a Midline Study, under the watchful eyes of our Canadian doctoral candidate Rohit Ramchandani from Johns Hopkins University, UNICEF and the Zambian Ministry of Health. But we want to know what people like Gladys think right now.
Her story is hugely encouraging: “Before the Kit came in we used to have a lot of diarrhea cases. Sometimes, even if we gave them ORS [Oral Rehydration Salts] they would come back again, to be re-attended to, on the same case. Since Kit Yamoyo came, there is a very big change. Once we refer the patient to the shop there, she will go and buy and then she will be gone for good. She won’t come back with the same case again.”
So, why does Gladys think that is? “It’s a very good project. It has improved the health of the people… The Kit itself, combined with the Zinc, is doing a good thing for the community…We don’t have Zinc, so they used to come back again. There is a great change”.
Simple childhood diarrhea is a killer; yet a cheap supplement like Zinc, taken with ORS, can clear it up for months, giving a child's immune system a breathing space. Constant visits to the Health Centre sap the resources of poor mothers and of over-stretched and poorly stocked health centres in rural areas; so Gladys, for one, is very happy to see mothers and children in her community benefitting.
And we are supporting livelihoods too: Gladys’s son Lubinda, is, coincidentally, one of the retailers selling Kit Yamoyo. He only joined the project in December, but has already bought 140 Kits, in three trips to the Coca-Cola wholesaler in Kalomo town; he has sold 112 of them already. He bought one box of 35 Kits just before Christmas, and another in January. But on his February trip, he doubled his purchase to 2 boxes: 70 Kits.
Like nearly all of our registered and trained retailers, he has chosen not to buy small numbers of Kits (5 or 10), to slot into Coca-Cola crates, as we had originally intended. The demand for Kit Yamoyos outstrips that of Coca-Cola for his customers, so he is buying Kit Yamoyo by the boxful! We have learnt many things from Coca-Cola and this is the most important: if a product is desirable and affordable, and local people can make money from it, it will get anywhere.
Our top retailer in Kalomo district is Alfred Siachoobe. He has bought and sold nearly 1,000 Kit Yamoyos since the project started; that’s nearly 200 a month. When asked why he’d decided to stock Kit Yamoyo, his answer was simple: “I’m a businessman.” Like Coca-Cola, all we have to do now, is get production localised, costs down, price points right at every step so local people make a living, and build the desirability of Kit Yamoyo. That’s sustainability.
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