Notes from Tuesday in rural Kalomo

Last Tuesday (30/10/12) started at 6am and finished at 7pm. The day was spent traveling around rural Kaloma calling on rural health centres, promoters and retailers.

We delivered vouchers to health centers and promoters and collected vouchers from retailers that they had collected in exchange for Kit Yamoyos.

Oral Rehydration Therapy Corner at a rural health centreHealth centres act as one of the distribution mechanisms for the vouchers and the vouchers are warmly accepted by health centre staff. At the one health centre we asked, they had 5 cases of diarrhoea that day and had no ORS in stock. They hadn’t ORS for 3 months. The only two packets in the health centre were in the ‘ORT Corner’ for demonstration purposes. Fortunately, there is a Kit Yamoyo registered retailer just opposite.

However, retailers have stock-outs too although only two of the 15 we visited had sold-out and had no stock. This is one of the reasons that we are trying to have two or three Kit Yamoyo retailers in each community. The important thing is that the community does not stock-out.

It was fantastic going back to Siachitema. Mainly because I am no longer treated as some sort of exotic beast! It felt a bit like going home. The kids are now not at all frightened of the white giant and were all round me whatever I did. For example, their noses were within an inch of the vouchers I was counting out.

We left vouchers with Mrs Banda the OIC at the health centre. She was her normal calm and cheerful self despite the queues of people waiting patiently to see her. We then went to see the two retailers who participated in the test run – Joy and Golden. The big news here is that Golden has built his own shop! I think he was renting his original shop which was much smaller.

Golden's old shop Golden's new shop
Golden’s old shop and the new one

As the test run retailers, Joy and Golden are on the Zoona system and now that the system is available, Charlotte (the Keepers Zambia Foundation (KZF) Project Officer) was able to remind them how to redeem vouchers and they were both able to do so.

Over Monday afternoon and Tuesday we collected 515 vouchers from 14 retailers and made payments. These payments totalled K 2,575,000. The average number of vouchers redeemed is 37 per retailer. This amounts to a gross income of approximately K184,000 per retailer with a gross profit of around K48,000 per retailer. In Lusaka, K48,000 buys a 25kg bag of mealie meal which feeds a family of 6 for two weeks.

We also collected ‘head and shoulders’ photos and copies of the retailers’ National Registration Cards – these are referred to as ‘Know your customer’ information – and this is needed to set-up the retailers on the Zoona payment transfer system. Once the retailers are on the system they will be able to redeem the vouchers themselves using their mobile phone. One of the difficulties we’ve had getting the Zoona payment transfer system working for us, is that when the KZF staff were trained as trainers they were not told to collect this ‘Know your customer’ information. This meant that it was not collected during the training when all the retailers were in one place and now has to be collected on a one-to-one basis which is a bit of a logistical nightmare. It means:

  1. That KZF have to organise cash to pay retailers
  2. They have to collect this ‘Know your customer’ information on a one-to-one basis
  3. Once they are on the system, the retailers will need to be trained
  4. In the meantime, all the details of all the vouchers they collect (and there are a lot of them) have to be entered into the system by hand

It’s going to be several weeks before we recover from this position but the manual ‘work-arounds’ we have put in place are working well. All of this could have been avoided if the Zoona training of trainers training had been planned and implemented properly.