Last week was a good week: out on the road – on the front line, which is where I like to be. Unfortunately it’s not generally the place I should be – that’s the role of our Zambian partners, who do a much better job. However, we are setting up for the test run of the Kit Yamoyo distribution system and I wanted to be there.
The idea of the test run is to try out all the systems involved in the distribution channel. That includes the physical bits: the assembly of the Kit Yamoyos, their delivery to Medical Stores Limited (MSL), transportation from Lusaka to Kalomo by MSL, and receipt by the Coca-Cola wholesaler in the district town. From there, we want to test the purchase of the kits by retailers and the sale to mothers and care-givers in the remote rural communities. Alongside all of this we need to test the mobile phone support systems for voucher redemption and authentication.
We started in Kalomo town at the Standard Sales wholesale depot ,where we talked with Douglas, the depot manager. We shared the trial run plan with him and discussed his role in the distribution chain, and especially record keeping requirements at the wholesale level.
Douglas had lined up two retailers who he thought would be willing to act as our ‘guinea pigs’ for the trial run. So the next stop was rural Kalomo – a village called Siachitema. Here we meet Golden and Joy (see the image at the top of the this post and that’s Joy outside her shop in the image immediately above). There was a lot to cover in our discussions with Joy and Golden and we also needed to collect their personal details so that they can be set up on our SMS based voucher redemption system. It was all a bit rushed. But, it will all work more naturally when the enrolment into the voucher redemption system is part of the two-day training all retailers will receive, once the trial is underway. We shared the Kit Yamoyo training materials that Jane has worked so hard on with Golden and Joy. They are full of colour pictures, and as you can see from the photo above, in an area where picture books are scarce, they were an immediate hit with Joy’s 4-year-old daughter!
Before travelling to Siachitema we’d made a courtesy call to the District Medical Officer (DMO) in Kalomo. We were warmly received by the acting DMO who suggested we visit the Provincial Medical Officer (PMO) in Livingstone. So we called ahead to make an appointment at 3pm. We were hard pressed to make it down to Livingstone – Zambia’s tourist capital – but arrived in time and were warmly received by Dr Lutangu Alisheke. He was excited to hear about our plans and assured us that we’d have all the support we needed from his office.
This whole trip was enhanced by the company I kept and the people we met along the way. I travelled with our colleague from Keepers Zambia Foundation (KZF) – Albert Saka. KZF have been busy establishing an office in Kalomo and recruiting their field staff. Interviews took place very recently and we were able to meet the successful candidates – Charlotte and Boyd. Both were able to be with us during our meeting with Douglas and accompanied us to Siachitema which was brilliant. It was good to spend time with them and help with their induction into the team.
And . . . we were accompanied on the whole trip by Sarika Bansal a journalist from New York. She’d traveled to Zambia on a Global Fund assignment the previous week and was following up on a string of other stories. One of these was ColaLife.
Image credit: Sarika Bansal
One of her other stories took her to Kalomo District Hospital where she met this poor little girl and her mother. The girl was suffering from diarrhoea. There was no ORS at the hospital and the doctor wasn’t there so they left . . . . if any further evidence is needed that a successful ColaLife is required, this is it.