Top 5 Highlights in 2023

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This is the fifteenth and final annual round-up of highlights. As we announced earlier this year, ColaLife will be closing down on 31-Mar-2024 having achieved what it set out to do and more. We’d like to thank everyone who has been a part of this journey. It’s been quite a ride. >>more

Here are this year’s highlights.

1. Publications in the academic press

BMJ Innovations logo Global Health Science and Practice - Mobile Logo
Last year (2022) we got our first paper in the peer-reviewed academic press when BMJ Innovations published: Emulating value-chains of fast-moving consumer goods to improve uptake of co-packaged ORS and zinc for childhood diarrhoea: evaluation of the ColaLife trial. This paper covered the results of the original, co-distribution and co-packaging trial.

This year (2023) BMJ Innovations published a second paper: Design thinking to improve rational use of oral rehydration salts: lessons from an innovative co-packaged diarrhoea treatment kit. This covered the design aspects of the ORS and Zinc Co-pack (Kit Yamoyo). The most important features, as regular readers will know, are the choice of 200 mL ORS sachets and the measuring functionality of the packaging. The paper highlights the processes we used to arrive at this improved design for consumers.

This month we had a third paper accepted for publication this time by the Johns Hopkins journal, Global Health: Science and Practice. This paper is entitled  Institutionalizing Innovation: From Pilot to Scale for Co-Packaged Oral Rehydration Salts and Zinc—A Case Study in Zambia and describes how we went about the scale-up to ensure that our work is self-sustaining beyond our involvement. [Addendum 22-Jan-2024: now published see Institutionalising Innovation – 3rd Peer-reviewed paper published]

And finally, we have just submitted a follow-up paper to Global Health: Science and Practice entitled: Institutionalizing innovation: Toward global scale-up of co-packaged oral rehydration salts and zinc for treating childhood diarrhea – a case study. This covers the process of getting co-packaged ORS and Zinc on the WHO Essential Medicines List. If accepted, this will be our fourth academic paper and will mean that the key areas of our work over the last fifteen years are recorded in the academic press and not just on this blog.

2. Our final visit to Zambia

This was our first trip in five years. A key objective was to use it make some noise around Kit Yamoyo, to celebrate its legacy and reaffirm the commitment of the government and private sector to the product.

The Kit Yamoyo Story space
A highlight of the the trip was the event – The Kit Yamoyo Story – organised by our manufacturing partner for the last 15 years: Pharmanova. The event celebrated the Kit Yamoyo legacy, discussed how that sustainable legacy was now institutionalised, and looked to the future. The event triggered at least six articles in Zambia’a national press and features on national TV and radio. It cemented relationships with the Ministry of Health and the national supermarket chain Shoprite and others. During the trip this blog went into overdrive and recorded the detail of this event and the activities that went on either side of it:

3. Proudly Zambian Product of the Year award

Kit Yamoyo team with Proudly Zambian cup and certificate
From the outset of our work a key objective has been to embed the outcomes of our work in Zambia and over the years we have presented evidence that this has been achieved – for example, see Kit Yamoyo. Proudly Zambia. (2012) and So how was the kit Yamoyo Legacy achieved?. Here is more evidence. On Friday 24-Nov-2024 Kit Yamoyo came second in the Proudly Zambian Product of the Year awards. You don’t get much more embedded than that.

4. Outreach!


Despite the fact that ColaLife is closing down shortly, there is quite a lot of momentum in the system around what we’ve done and how we’ve done it.

Book Cover - The Four Workarounds  Cover - Social Entrepreurship

The beginning of the year saw us featured in two books: Paulo Savaget’s ‘The Four Workarounds’ and Teresa Chahine’s latest edition of ‘Social Entrepreneurship’. Paulo’s book explores non-traditional problem solving. We are particularly pleased with his sub-title: “Strategies from the world’s scrappiest organisations for tackling complex problems”; it isn’t always big, well-established organisations which effect change. Paulo shadowed us in Zambia when he was a Gates Scholar and PhD candidate at Cambridge University and has written about us before (See: Emulating Value Chains of Consumer Goods to Save Lives). He’s now an Associate Professor at Oxford University. His book describes four workarounds: The Piggyback, The Loophole, The Roundabout, The Next Best. Obviously, we are The Piggyback.

Teresa Chahine is also an academic. She is Senior Lecturer in Social Entrepreneurship at Yale School of Management. We are a much smaller part of this book – a half-page case study (page 150-151). It’s very interesting to retrofit Teresa’s framework to what we actually did. It would have been great to have had her text fifteen years ago.

Both books are available on Amazon. The Four Workarounds, Social Entrepreneurship.

Leading with empathy - book cover

Early next year (on 3-Jan-2024) Carolyn Reily’s book – ‘Leading with Empathy‘ – is published and this features ColaLife as a case study in the section on ‘Legacy’.

Presentation to the Ministry of Justice

Gina Gill, the Chief Digital Innovation Officer (CDIO) at the Ministry of Justice had been given a copy of Paulo’s book and this lead to an invitation to present to the Digital Team at the Ministry of Justice as part of their ‘Transforming with Digital’ programme. The theme was ‘Uniting Around a Common Vision’ and gave us the opportunity to describe how ColaLife has operated (smart networks and all that) and to reflect on the time when we were gearing up for the launch of ColaLife. Then, I was on secondment to the UK Government and had significant contact with members of the Digital Team at the Ministry of Justice. you can view the full presentation and Q&A on YouTube here.

Uniting Around a Common Vision with ColaLife – Transforming with Digital

We thank the Ministry of Justice for their £500 donation to ColaLife.


The original Kit Yamoyo, nestled in a Coca-Cola crate, has spent most of the year on display in both the Young V&A (London, from July 2023) and the Holon Design Museum in Israel from 22-May to 25-Nov-2023. Here are some pictures from Israel:

ColaLife Exhibit at the Holon Museum 4 ColaLife Exhibit at the Holon Museum 3
ColaLife Exhibit at the Holon Museum 2 ColaLife Exhibit at the Holon Museum 1
Photographer: Dor Kedmi, Courtesy of Design Museum Holon

5. Joint Policy Brief on Co-packaged ORS and Zinc WHO/UNICEF

And we end with something which we’ve spent quite some time on but made very little headway; something that we will take into the New Year with a determination to achieve before ColaLife closes down on 31-Mar-2024.

Defining the ORS:Zinc co-pack coverWhat WHO and UNICEF say generally has a big impact. Just after we achieved the ORS/Zinc Co-packaging listing in WHO’s Essential Medicines List and before COVID struck at the end of 2019, there was a movement towards WHO/UNICEF making a joint statement on co-packaged ORS and Zinc with the objective of drawing attention to the new recommendation and encouraging national (and, where applicable, state) governments to consider adopting it. We know from decades of evidence that such action would save tens of thousands of young lives, year on year into the future.

We were encouraged that WHO met with us (representing ORSZCA) virtually on 22-Feb-2023. At this meeting it was agreed that a Joint Policy Briefing would be the most appropriate format. Following this meeting we produced:

  • A Position Paper requested by WHO on: Defining an ORS/Zinc ‘co-pack’ which is available here  – comments on this are welcome.
  • A first draft outline for a policy briefing – this available here as a Google Doc and is open for comment.

However, the WHO and UNICEF representatives we had been dealing with have now stopped responding to emails so in the New Year we will escalate this issue, which we believe, given its expected impact, should be given priority by both WHO and UNICEF.

As always we’d like to thank all those who’ve helped us on our way this year.


  1. Via Email says

    Well done again on all you have achieved with Cola Life, Simon; hope the final months go well, and best of luck in your efforts with WHO and UNICEF.

    Very best wishes to you and Jane for 2024, and will hope to find an opportunity to catch up at some stage………………


  2. Via Email says

    Congratulations on the ColaLife project and the amazing achievements!

    Happy New Year



  3. Via Email says

    Congratulations Simon, I have followed your work for many years now, and what you have achieved, the problem you have solved and always an inspiration.

    What are you up to now? What are your challenges after March 2024? What problem are you going to solve next? Would love to know if you want to share.

    [A friend] mentioned your work [many years ago] and I have followed ever since!

    Congratulations Simon, and a big thank you to you and your team for saving lives, for giving hope, for making children smile.

    All the best,


    • Dear R

      Thank you very much for your message and kind words. It’s always great when a silent follower of many years pops up! Please give M my regards when you next see her. I will always remember the first time I met her and her huge enthusiasm for what we were trying to do.

      What happens after March? Well, I have quite a few personal projects (like this) that need to get done before it’s too late(!) so I will be switching to them. I will continue to blog here:

      All the best with your endeavours.

      With best wishes


  4. Steve Evans says

    Congratulations tt you both on your fantastic achievements over the year’s.Having grown up with you and your family many years ago i can only say how proud you should be and I know your parents would have been of you(not sure if your dads still alive?),it’s been a long hard journey since those Seagry School days sounds like it’s time to enjoy “your time “now Hope all your family are well ,maybe have a pint in the New Inn if your ever passing this way congratulations once again ,take care
    Best regards,
    Steve .