Top 10 achievements in 2017

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ORS Zinc 99 percent slide
One of the graphics used to support our Essential Medicines List campaign – see Item 1  Image credit: Simon Berry

Here are our Ten Top Achievements for 2017.


1. Formed a consortium to lobby for Co-packaged ORS and Zinc on WHO’s Essential Medicines List.

Jay Goulden's EML Tweet Mar-17 Sometimes the most obvious solutions are simply overlooked. In Jan-17 – almost a year ago – we asked ourselves a very simple question: Why isn’t co-packaged ORS and Zinc on the WHO Essential Medicines for Children?. This got quite a response, including this tweet from Jay Goulden. Jay worked for CARE Zambia and is a great supporter of our work. Others soon came on board.

The WHO/UNICEF recommended treatment for diarrhoea – ORS combined with Zinc – is nearly 14 years old but less than 1% of cases are treated with it. Our experience in the field tells us that just listing these items separately on the EML may be part of the problem. So, we are proposing an additional listing for ORS and Zinc co-therapy. This is a combination treatment and, we argue, if the two items are only listed separately, they will continue to be procured, supplied and distributed separately. So, the two elements will not always be in stock together and very rarely dispensed to patients together.

During the year, we have won support in Zambia, approached the relevant WHO committee and found out how to apply for this vital change. We have convened an influential grouping of academics, experts, NGOs and supporters, started to gather the evidence we need, built a timeline and identified and submitted a bid for funding. The WHO EML Committee next meets in Mar-19 and the deadline for submissions is Nov-18. Follow the build-up to this on this link:

If we are successful, this could our single biggest achievement.


2. Localisation!

Kit Yamoyo - Proudly Zambian

A key principle of our work is that everything we do must be ‘self-sustaining’. What we mean by this is that when ColaLife withdraws, we must leave a system behind that carries on solving the problem without us. Sadly, this is unusual in the ‘aid business’. International organisations move in and tend to stay, often mirroring what local organisations are there to do. Or, if they leave, the systems they’ve created collapse.

With this in mind, it is always very reassuring when we see evidence of local ownership. This picture above was taken on the last day of our last trip to Zambia of 2017 (9-Nov-17). The rather impromptu signs had been placed around a Shoprite store alongside locally produced items. Look closely and you will see one that reads “Proudly Zambian”. Regular readers will know that as well as acting as a retail outlet, Shoprite also acts as a wholesale outlet for small community retailers of Kit Yamoyo. For more on successful localisation, see point 4, below.


3. Kit Yamoyo is taken into the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert (V&A) is one of the most famous design museums in the world and in 2017. Design excellence is the foundation of ColaLife’s model to transform access to diarrhoea treatment and so it is good to have the design aspects of our work recognised in this way once again.

The three product formats have been classified as follows but have only been given ‘holding photos’ at the moment. They will be photographed professionally in due course:

  • The original Kit Yamoyo ‘AidPod’ that fits in a Coca-Cola crate and was tested in the trial in Zambia (2012-2013) – CD.101-2016
  • The first scale-up version of Kit Yamoyo, ‘the flexi-pack’ – CD.156-2016
  • The Kit Yamoyo ‘screw-top’ – CD.155-2016


4. Kit Yamoyo Screw-top format launched.

Kit Yamoyo screw-top Shoprite Kit Yamoyo screw-top Shoprite 2

Nearly 4 years after we conceived and designed the screw-top format of Kit Yamoyo, with help from packaging experts PI Global, it has finally hit the Shoprite supermarket shelves in Zambia. We were delighted that the final decision to market this new format, the final steps and and the launch were managed by our local manufacturing partner, Pharmanova. As is often the case in ColaLife, the route the screw-top format took to get to market was not entirely the one we had planned. You can read the full story here.


5. ColaLife scores A+ in our 2nd annual report to DfID.

Vouchers (version 2)ColaLife holds the contract for one of the two Kit Yamoyo Scale-up projects in Zambia – KYTS-LUSAKA. This is funded by DfID in the UK under the UK Aid Direct programme. Reporting to DfID is incredibly onerous and takes a good proportion of Jane‘s time. So we were very pleased to be receive a score of A+. The reviewers said:

Your annual review report was very comprehensive and clearly articulated the project’s progress to date… The project exceeded most of its output milestones..

The quality of the evidence that you have provided under the value for money section is very comprehensive. The project has given good attention to economy, efficiency, effectiveness. Your multiplier effects (including working with a local manufacturer and the collaboration with Live Well and USAID-DISCOVER) are excellent and will ensure the project impact goes beyond the scope of the project. Based on the information that provided, the project appears to offer very good value for money.”

Thanks to Jane for coordinating this and for all our colleagues in Zambia for their contributions.


6. Caen to Cannes (C2C) cycle ride raised £17,500.

When 2017 started, cycling from Caen to Cannes in 9 days to raise funds for ColaLife wasn’t part of the plan. But on 1-May-17 Simon met with an old friend, Nigel, in our local pub and a plan was hatched. The above video sums things up very well. Our generous individual supporters donated £7,500 and the Green Room – who had supported us in the very early days – donated £10,000 saying:

“We have been impressed with your commitment and achievements and would like to support you in the next phase of your project with a donation of £10,000.”

This type of funding is of particular value to us as it is not restricted to a specific project. We will be using it to get our Globalization work underway in 2018. If you meant to sponsor us but didn’t quite get around to it you can still donate here:


7. Rural Endline surveys completed.

23. The onward journey to Mongu.In Nov-17 and Dec-17 the monumental task of gathering data to measure the impact of our rural development project, KYTS-ACE, got underway. This projected is run under the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) programme by our partner, KZF. Read more about the adventures of the field team here with some great pictures from Rohit who travelled to Zambia to oversee the household surveys carried out in the far west and the far east of Zambia.

The data will be analysed in the New Year for a public report. But a quick skim of the data indicates that we may have achieved coverage rates of around 40% for the treatment of diarrhoea with ORS and Zinc. Globally, coverage is very poor (at around 1% of cases). In our first tightly controlled trial, we managed to boost coverage from 1% up to 45% – so it would be fantastic if, 4 years later,  a combination of public and private sector distribution is achieving a similar target over a much wider area through our scale-up efforts. Encouragingly, interviews with senior stakeholders within the Ministry of Health indicate that the government version of the kit has been very favourably received. Interviewees thought the ORS/Zinc co-pack had made a big difference, should continue to be supplied and should be on Zambia’s Essential Medicines List.


8. Mission critical relationships renewed.

GRZ Logo Hi-res (2000 x 2317)During the year, Zambia’s Ministry of Health has agreed to sign up to our joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the third time. This gives ColaLife a framework for involvement in the country for a further 3 years. Although we expect ColaLife’s implementation work to be substantially complete by mid-2018, we will need to return in 2019/20 to assess how things have progressed without us.

We are also very grateful to The Isenberg Family Charitable Foundation who renewed their core funding support for ColaLife through to mid-2019. Isenberg are an innovative impact investor and Jane presented our work at a workshop they ran at the Isenberg Business School, Amherst, Boston (USA) in Oct-17.

We take both of these renewals as a big vote of confidence in our work.


9. Funding secured for ColaLife ‘Playbook’.


A key part of our Globalization Plan is to produce a ‘Playbook’ which will describe the strategies and processes to follow when  implementating an ORS/Zinc programme in countries outside Zambia. The Playbook will also link to resources such as these to help others adapt and adopt the Zambia experience to circumstances in their own country.

Paulo Savaget, who spent 4 weeks in Zambia with Simon and Jane Berry in Jun-17, as part of his PhD on ‘Sustainability Hacking’, has won funding from the IBM Center for Business of Government Award to work on our idea for a Playbook – and he will start work early next year.  >>more


10. New partnership with Norr.

Norr bottlesThis year we were approached by the Swedish drinks start-up company Norr as part of their 1/1 strategy. Norr explains:

“ColaLife is one of Norr’s first partners with a very special approach towards solving the problem of ORS. The founders of ColaLife realised that Coca-Cola seemed to be everywhere in developing countries, yet life-saving medicines didn’t.”

So far, Norr have donated $6,000. We have used this first donation to support the government of Zambia to fill a gap in their procurement budget for ORS and Zinc in rural areas. Over 14,600 co-packs were distributed to rural health centres under the KYTS-ACE programme, to be given free to mothers and carers. Our hope is, that when the KYTS-ACE data is published, and when the listing on the Essential Medicines List is secured, both in Zambia and internationally, then it will be much easier for for donors and Health Ministries to allocate their own budget line to ORS/Zinc co-packs.


Finally, as we say every year . . . a big thank you to everyone who has supported ColaLife throughout 2017. We are making great progress. We couldn’t do it without our supporters. 

Onwards and upwards.





  1. Brilliant – from strength to strength. Can’t wait for 2018!


    Thanks for the good work.