Zambia Diary | Days 6-7, Visit 3 | SABMiller, Jhpiego, DfID and Partners Meeting

We have another couple of interesting days to report on, so here goes.

On Wednesday (18/5/11) we arrived at SABMiller ten minutes early for our meeting and as we went into the reception I put my phone to silent. 40 minutes later we were still in reception. We’d sort of lost track of time as we were working on the plan on my laptop while we waited. The receptionist, who was new, had forgotten about us! Anyway after clearing up this misunderstanding we were warmly welcomed by Andrew, who had been calling and texting me to find out where we were! We updated Andrew on progress and went through the detail of the roles we needed SABMiller to fulfil. Andrew re-stated SABMiller’s commitment to the pilot and it is clear that they will do everything they need to to fulfil their contribution.

Overnight I’d been contacted by our friends at sounddelivery to ask if I would do a piece to camera on my  top tip on the use of social media for campaigning so I thought I’d have a go at this outside the SABMiller factory. And here it is:

Regular readers will be aware of our link with Rohit Ramchandani of Johns Hopkins University, who will be ensuring that the results of the ColaLife pilot are statistically significant. On Tuesday our Ministry of Health contact pointed out that Jhpiego – an NGO and affiliate of Johns Hopkins University – had an office in Lusaka. So I thought I’d make contact. I’m very grateful to Jabbin, Michelle, Hilda and Nchimunya for making time to see me at short notice. Jhpiego’s strapline is ‘innovating to save lives’ so you can imagine the sort of conversations we had.

Yesterday (1/5/11) we were very pleased to meet Angela Spilsbury at DfID. We’ve had difficulty engaging with DfID in Zambia due to the unavailability of DfID staff during our previous two visits so it was really good to make proper contact. As we all know, since the elections in the UK last year, DfID has gone through a significant reassessment of priorities within its ‘ring-fenced’ budget. It looks like this will work in our favour as there is more funding available for investment in health and the drug supply chain than in recent years. There was certainly no promise of funding to support the ColaLife pilot but there was genuine interest and we’ve been ask to send our pilot plan to DfID when it is ready which is encouraging.

But the highlight of the past 2 days was the partners meeting yesterday in the UNICEF conference room. We knew in advance that MSL and SABMiller were not going to be able to attend this meeting due to prior committments, so Jane and I made sure we had collected the information we needed from these partners in our one-to-one meetings.

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Putting activities on the timeline

Jane came up with a great process for getting us all to think about who had to do what, when, and where the dependencies and gaps were. We put in the rainy season and talked about the cycle of work rural communities have to do in the fields. The starting point was the ‘partners and roles’ document circulated before the meeting. We took an A4 sheet of paper for each role and broke down the activities required to fulfil that role on sticky notes – one activity per sticky.

We then moved the activities onto a pre-prepared timeline which ran the whole length of the conference room table. Different colours represent the different partners. It was a really useful exercise and reinforced the fact that the pilot will be very front-loaded, with a lot of careful preparatory work required before we move out into the target communities.

Then after 3 hours of pretty intensive work we all felt pretty pleased with ourselves and got a bit silly – this picture tells the story. Enough said. Hope we will all look this happy when we finish the REAL pilot!

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Ngawa (UNICEF), Lusako (UNICEF), Simon (ColaLife) and John (KZF)