Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children

by ColaLife
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Lifesaving AidPods for 65,000 African children
Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia back Kit Yamoyo
Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia back Kit Yamoyo

Our work is all about saving children's lives, one at a time. Until now, we've concentrated on Zambia. But this year, 2016, is the start of something big. I hope you’ll come along with us!

Influencing key organisations and networks is now right at the heart of our aims. Last month, in Zambia, Kit Yamoyo was presented at the Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia’s Annual Conference. There was a very enthusiastic response, and we’ll now be contacting similar associations across Sub-Saharan Africa.

What's more, ColaLife is being supported by Ashoka to work on a globalisation strategy. It will focus on countries where:

  • we can convene a network of existing players around a market-based effort
  • we can have the best chance of a big impact (number crunching mapped against ease-of-access)
  • we can get a manufacturer, government and NGOs willing to take up our Open Source offer, as well as a guide to commercialising Kit Yamoyo (our next big job) and support from ColaLife, if they need it.

Our work on better design and distribution has also featured strongly in an international publication:

These are the key messages we’re aiming to promote globally:

  • We are here to support local manufacture, existing systems, complementary programmes
  • Listen to your customers! They know what will help them.
  • Make it easy! Design is key: small sachets, co-packaged ORS and Zinc
  • Affordability and desirability go hand-in-hand
  • Education and awareness are key to drive demand

Meanwhile, in Zambia the work goes on. A Global Giving field-visitor, Aleia Bucci came to see our project recently. She says:

“Shop owners throughout the compound [slum area] all expressed the positive impact Kit Yamoyo has had in their community. The introduction of Kit Yamoyo has not only saved lives, but has increased the level of education surrounding prevention of diarrhoea in the future as well.”

We now have:

  • 1,220 trained small retailers, selling to communities all over Zambia
  • 70% - 90% of retailers with stock in 6 of our 9 provinces – we’re aiming for 80% across the board
  • Most small shops are selling between 1 and 4 kits a week to their community – our target is 1 to 2 kits
  • 28 stores in Zambia’s biggest supermarket chain selling Kit Yamoyo

Our fieldworkers update progress every week, and you can see a weekly snapshot here.

The next couple of years will be an interesting ride – stay with us!

Trained supermarket cashiers promote Kit Yamoyo
Trained supermarket cashiers promote Kit Yamoyo
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Jude is delighted with the 'Miracle Medicine'.
Jude is delighted with the 'Miracle Medicine'.

Sometimes the simplest, low-cost solutions make a huge difference.

The world's health experts have known for over a decade how to treat the world's second biggest killer of young children: diarrhoea. Oral Rehydration Salts and Zinc are cheap, easy to distribute, and simple to use in the home - in theory. Hardly a 'miracle' breakthrough'.

But this is how ColaLife's 'Kit Yamoyo' is now being welcomed in African villages.  

Jude and her baby girl, Mushala, live in Namushakende Village, on the edge of the Zambezi river floodplain. It's a day's drive from the capital, and 25 kilometres from the Provincial town, Mongu. In the wet season, the whole area can be inundated: great for cattle farming on the newly green plains, but not so good for a clean water supply for families. A careful mother, Jude tells us she always treats the family's drinking water to make it safe and she takes care with hygiene. But Mushala is 16 months old - just at the age when children everywhere begin to explore their world, and as Jude says: 'With children, you can’t always see what they put in their mouth.'  

Jude had never heard of Kit Yamoyo until Mushala became seriously ill with diarrhoea: "I thought it was just an episode of a bad tummy and it would soon clear up," she told our Project Officer, Akufuna Ngenda. "But the diarrhoea did not stop. Instead it worsened. Rapidly the baby became very weak. As she deteriorated, I rushed to the Health Centre, which fortunately is very near the village."

But as often happens, government distribution systems can struggle and the Health Centre didn't have the medicine that Mushala needed in stock.

She continues her story: "They scolded me for delaying to come to the Health Centre. But they told me to go and get a new pack that had come to the village shop: Kit Yamoyo.

"I went to the shop immediately and bought the kit. I was in a hurry to give my baby the medicine because she had become very weak. But the shop-keeper, Mr. Liwena, has been trained in how to use this kit and he stopped me for a while to explain to me how the kit works.

"I followed his instructions and started the treatment. It was easy to understand and mix up the Oral Rehydration Salts at home. I also started the Zinc tablets immediately. The diarrhoea stopped on the second day and I thought it was a miracle!"

Indeed, Mushala now looks strong and healthy - it's difficult to imagine how quickly she became so ill and how suddenly her life was in danger.

Jude went back to Mr. Liwena and told him how good the kit was. He reminded her to continue with Zinc for the full 10 days, as it helps strengthen children's immunity. Jude followed his advice - and the diarrhoea hasn't returned.  Now Jude has become a local advocate for Kit Yamoyo, and tells her friends and neighbours in the market about it, whenever she gets the chance.

Mushala is now one among thousands: when ColaLife began developing a new design for a rehydration pack to stop children dying from diarrhoea, we never imagined what a difference it could make to so many lives.

This great story brings together many of the simple solutions that your donations support: wider distribution of a better designed anti-diarrhoea kit, easy to use, easily sourced in the village from well trained shop-keepers - and backed by supportive government Health Centres.

Even the simplest solutions can bring a small miracle.

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24 new jobs created producing Kit Yamoyo 'AidPods'
24 new jobs created producing Kit Yamoyo 'AidPods'

At this time of year, we take a break from the ColaLife Roller-coaster, to look back and see what last year brought, before taking a deep breath and starting on next year's targets.

At the beginning of the year, we wondered if 2015 would be our 'breakthrough' year: moving all of the learning and designs we took from our earlier trial into a self-sustaining market. We're not quite there yet, but we are ready to roll, as our Top Ten shows. We are always amazed at how much has happened in just 12 months - so much of it through the help of our many supporters across the world.  So, these are YOUR achievements too - we could not have done it without you!

1. Supermarket chain agrees to stock Kit Yamoyo nationwide

Small shops are the best way to reach deep into communities in Africa – but to really establish Kit Yamoyo as a commercially viable product, available and sustainable for the long term, right across Zambia, we knew we had to get a supermarket chain on board. Well, right at the end of 2015, we did it: the well-known African chain, Shoprite, has undertaken to sell Kit Yamoyo packs - at close to cost-price - in all its stores nationwide.

The Country Director, Charles Bota, was very complimentary: “We have recognised, in the neat little Kit Yamoyo pack, a winning world class design that complies with international health standards, Zambian regulatory requirements and with what our customers want.  When the right quality, pricing packaging and value is available, buying local is best for us and best for Zambia." 

2. The biggest order yet!

In Mar-15 our Zambian pharmaceutical partner, Pharmanova, won an order to supply 452,000 ORS/Zinc co-packs, closely based on the Kit Yamoyo design, to the Ministry of Health. This has led to 24 new jobs at Pharmanova - a new team, engaged full-time on making the government-branded pack, as well as assembling ‘Kit Yamoyo’ for the private sector.

3. ColaLife wins GSK and Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award

One of the top prizes in the world for innovation in child health, this award has really opened up possibilities for a small charity like ColaLife: as well as the prestige and the publicity, this cash prize - together with donations from our Global Giving supporters - has helped us start a major project in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. This is co-funded by the UK’s Department for International Development: DfID. (See Number 5)

4. Market development in remote districts: the KYTS-ACE project

This project began in February 2015, and is helping us reach some of the most sparsely populated areas of Zambia. KYTS is shorthand for 'Kit Yamoyo Transition to Scale' and reflects our ambition to scale-up distribution across Zambia – even challenging remote areas.

5. Our best shot at sustainability for Kit Yamoyo in Zambia: the KYTS-LUSAKA project begins

We've been trying for nearly 2 years to raise enough funding to launch a big project in a densely populated market to establish Kit Yamoyo sustainably for the future. Finally, in Apr-15, we heard from DfID that ColaLife's bid had a provisional award to work in Zambia's capital city, Lusaka.  The due diligence process was rigorous and took 6 months, but by October the much anticipated KYTS-LUSAKA project had begun. We have 30 months to make it a success.

6. The Cola Road film made available for download

Claire Ward - the maker of The Cola Road - an award-winning documentary covering how ColaLife started in Zambia - has made her film available for free download. It gives a beautiful picture of Zambia and the early challenges we faced.

7. Telling the world... spreading the word

ColaLife's strategy for impact is to give away everything we have learnt - from designs to data and from challenges to success stories. This year, ColaLife spoke at some prestigious venues, including the UK’s Royal Society of Medicine.

8. Memorandum of Understanding signed between local partners

Our best marker of success will be if Zambia (and other countries) take on the ideas, designs, and lessons we've learnt, so that ColaLife is no longer needed. When local partners sign their own agreements to work together, we can see that beginning. By November this year, the influential Medical Stores Limited (MSL) had agreed to distribute to government health centres, and will also carry advertisements on its vehicles, at no cost, for at least a year. Since MSL's vehicles travel all over Zambia, this is a key win to advertise Kit Yamoyo widely.

9. More awards and accolades!

The awards kept coming in 2015. In addition to the GSK and Save the Children Award, we were honoured to receive the following awards and accolades:

- Resource Efficient Pack of the Year at the UK Packaging Awards.

- Finalist, with honourable mention, at the Index:Awards 2015.

- CEO and co-founder of ColaLife, Simon Berry, was elected to the influential Ashoka Fellowship of ‘Social Entrepreneurs’: there are more than 3,000 fellows worldwide.

10. ColaLife produces a Doctor!

In December, our Public Health expert, Rohit Ramchandani, defended his Dr PH thesis, to some the biggest names in Public Health. Rohit has given us the rigour we needed for our work to be taken seriously in the Public Health arena. Next year, we hope to see our findings published in academic journals.

Read more about our Top Ten here

.... So, what will 2016 bring?

Well, on 12th January we fly out to Zambia to meet our new project manager. Chibale Malekani will have the exciting task of launching our market development project in the capital, Lusaka, and the surrounding province. She will be organising a wide range of activiities to get the new Kit Yamoyo anti-diarrhoea kit well known across the city, and beyond: ranging from street drama and training sessions for community health workers and small retailers in the city's 'compounds' (slum areas), to radio and TV, billboards, and work with the 'formal market': supermarkets and pharmacies. 

ColaLIife would like to send heartfelt thanks to all of our supporters, and our very best wishes for 2016!

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Our new Vouchers
Our new Vouchers

Finally! Two years after the ColaLife trial in Zambia came to an end, we are very pleased to confirm that the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) will be the majority funder of our new project in Zambia. It took a significant effort for us to win this money. The process has taken nearly a year, and involved not only an initial 'Concept Note' and then a fully costed bid, but also a complete review and development of all of our systems.

This is the fully funded project we have been waiting for: we have always known that the key to establishing our ground-breaking diarrhoea kit - Kit Yamoyo - as a sustainable product in  Zambia is to work in the biggest market - where the most people live.

That is the capital, Lusaka, where over 2 million of Zambia's 13 million people live - over half of them in 'compounds' - or shanty towns. Our first work was in remote rural areas, because we wanted to prove that a well-designed, desirable and affordable product would get there - based on learning from what Coca-Cola and other corporates do. But for sustainability, a proper market launch, targetting the biggest population is key.

This new project - called KYTS-LUSAKA - will ensure that parents of 100,000 children will be able to buy an affordable diarrhoea kit close to home. It will also train several hundred shop keepers and community health workers - not only in how to use Kit Yamoyo, but also in using safe water, hand-washing and hygiene, and the 6 danger signs to beware of, in a sick child.

So, where do our Global Giving supporters come in? Whilst most of the funding comes from the UK Aid Direct Programme, we have pledged a voucher fund of £16,500 (or $25,000) to offer discount vouchers to mothers and carers in the poorest areas. This is enough to co-fund 30,000 vouchers. We would not have been able to bid for the project without the on-going support of Global Giving supporters! We are also adding co-funding from the GSK and Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award.

This new project will mean a lot to some of the poorest families in Zambia. Our local project manager, Albert Saka, tells us: "All of our work piloting Kit Yamoyo so far tells us that families really worry about their child dying from dehydration from diarrhoea - or remaining weak because of many recurrences. With so much pressure and crowding in public clinics, they want to be able to find a top quality medicine close to their home. We have waited a long time for this latest plan to come to fruition. Thank you Global Giving!"

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Tilingenji and Kondani
Tilingenji and Kondani

Are you in or near London on the evening of 27th July?  If you are, please join us at a free event for ColaLife supporters, both existing and new. Come and hear about our future plans yourself, ask questions, and see the ColaLife Film.

Work in Zambia is moving forward – with one new project already underway this year, aiming to reach the most remote areas where under-nutrition is rife, and one set to start in the heavily populated capital, Lusaka, in September.

Both of these projects feature implementation through local agencies: our way of ensuring ownership, alignment to local cultures and people,  and long term sustainability. And both will feature vouchers, crowd-sourced through our Global Giving support network!  We know how important these vouchers are, as at certain times of the year, before the harvest is in, many communities become low on cash:

Local mother Tilingenji told us: “The first time I tried Kit Yamoyo, I had a voucher, and this helped me as I had not yet sold [my harvest]. My child Kondani got better quickly, and up to now, has not suffered from diarrhoea again. So, my advice to other mothers when a child has diarrhoea is to buy Kit Yamoyo, even if you do not have a voucher, because it will help your child to improve quickly.”

Kit Yamoyo vouchers work in several vital ways. Given out via community health workers for redemption in local shops, they help us to target the poorest mothers and carers who have low incomes, poor educational level, large families – often more than six mouths to feed – or additional burdens to cope with, such as disability or long-term illness like HIV-AIDS.

Secondly, they help to ‘pull’ Kit Yamoyo out into even the most remote areas, in effect putting ‘value’ in the hands of mothers at the end of what distribution experts call ‘the value chain’. We feel this approach is much more sustainable than free products. This can undermine local shops and livelihoods.

Thirdly, local shop-keepers tell us that vouchers give them confidence to buy and bring Kit Yamoyo, when they know these are circulating in the community.

There are still challenges to overcome, but we also have some exciting new partnerships emerging – expanding the ‘channels to market’ for Kit Yamoyo – so that it will soon be available via government clinics and supermarkets. 

Hope to see some of our supporters in London soon!

Best wishes

Jane and Simon

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Location: London, Greater London - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @colalife
Simon Berry
Project Leader:
Simon Berry
Lusaka, Lusaka Province Zambia

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