ColaLife in ZambiaColaLife is an independent non-governmental organization, co-founded in 2008 as an online movement and transformed into a United Kingdom-based charity in 2011. The organization started with the realization that even in developing countries, Coca-Cola is accessible but lifesaving medicines are not. Despite scientific advances and discoveries, in 2017, almost 1.6 million people died from diarrheal diseases globally. ColaLife has made efforts to improve access to diarrheal treatments in the most remote areas of the world. ColaLife has operated with the help of more than 10,000 supporters and donors that allow for an effective response to the second leading cause of death in children worldwide. ColaLife in Zambia marked the beginning of these efforts.

ColaLife in Zambia

ColaLife in Zambia marked the beginning of an impressive effort to save the lives of children with diarrhea. The solution had to be immediate since the high numbers of diarrheal deaths in the region revealed that global efforts were insufficient and ineffective.  A whole three decades ago, Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and zinc were known as an effective combination treatment for patients with diarrhea. However, 99% of children do not receive these treatments.

ColaLife Operational Trial Zambia (COTZ):  Kit Yamoyo

COTZ was created as a custom project for Zambia under the recommendations of the WHO and UNICEF. The project aimed to distribute diarrhea treatment kits, called Kit Yamoyos, that contain Oral Rehydration Salts and zinc and promote the importance of handwashing by adding soap. The project implemented the founding logic of the organization and analyzed Coca-Cola’s distribution model to distribute the treatments in the most rural and remote areas of the country, specifically to mothers and children under 5 years of age.

ColaLife in Zambia, with the consent of Coca-Cola and its bottling company, SABMiller, coined the “AidPod” package, designed to fit into the unused portion of the crated bottles. This innovation proved that the supply chain could play a fundamental role in the accessibility of these treatments.

Currently, the initiative no longer needs the innovative hand of ColaLife. Kit Yamoyos are being produced and sold by local companies, reaching 1.2 million sales by the end of 2019. This number represents one million people whose lives have been saved. The Zambian Government is the largest customer for the kit and has contributed significantly to this cause. These kits are now easily found in supermarkets and are also sold by informal street vendors.

Extended Scope

The WHO has included in its Essential Medicines List (EML) the combination of ORS and zinc as a treatment for diarrhea. This milestone shows commitment, but above all, the success that the organization has had. The success of COTZ has shown that the solution pursued by ColaLife in Zambia has had a substantial impact. The organization would like to replicate the self-sustained impact that was made in Zambia in other parts of the world. ColaLife wants to continue promoting the treatment to save the lives of millions of children globally. Access to these kits could be the global solution to preventable deaths caused by diarrhea.

– Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Flickr

The U.N.’s post-2015 development agenda — the framework for which is expected to be ratified in September of this year — will rely heavily on the private sector.

According to Martin Sajdik, president of the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council, including non-state actors in the development agenda is a crucial step in making the post-2015 development goals more feasible. “Our economic life, our social life is not only determined by state actors, so if we want to have a development agenda that is for all countries of the world — both developed and developing—we cannot ignore the fact there are many more actors,” said Sajdik.

The new Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, place particular emphasis on the importance of building multistakeholder partnerships across sectors. While the U.N. has involved private sector partners to a greater extent than it did when crafting the MDGs, some believe that the private sector’s role in setting the post-2015 agenda could be expanded further.

“Ultimately, we in the [Community Service Organization] community and World Vision understand this is a governmental process, that the ultimate decision will be taken by member states of the U.N. but our role is to influence those member states,” said World Vision external relations director Chris Derksen-Hiebert.

In recent years, cross-sector relationships have become increasingly common. One advantage of such relationships is that they harness the valuable expertise, resources and distribution channels of private enterprises.

One example of this movement is ColaLife. In 2012, the U.K. based charity began sending medicine kits to Zambia in cases of Coca-Cola. Rohit Ramchandani, ColaLife’s principal investigator, explained the organization’s philosophy: “Our model looks specifically at how we can partner with and leverage private sector distribution channels, these companies that are able to get their product out to that last mile in the most remote parts of the world.”

More recently, President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative received over $20 billion in private sector commitments, which will create millions of jobs, and fast-track the development of sub-Saharan Africa.

Andrew Herscowitz, USAID’s coordinator for both the Power Africa and Trade Africa initiatives, believes that governments will need to draw on the vast resources of the private domain in order to establish the expansive infrastructure needed to power the African continent. “Energy is one of the key constraints to economic growth in Africa, and only the private sector has the sufficient resources to build the necessary infrastructure,” he wrote.

Herscowitz also believes that the partnerships being forged within the Power Africa initiative are representative of a changing paradigm in the development world. “Our African partners are now looking less for the high-priced expert, who comes into a country to opine on what reforms a country may need to drive development,” he explained. “Rather, they want the deals themselves to drive the development.”

He went on to connect the role of private sector partners and government organizations: “The role that development institutions play in driving infrastructure development is being redefined, and the Power Africa partners are excited to be driving this new model for development.”

As policymakers continue to forge the post-2015 development agenda, it appears they will begin relying more heavily on the private sector’s diverse and valuable resources.

Parker Carroll

Sources: The Brookings Institution, Businessweek, Devex 1, Devex 2
Photo: Wave Partnership

In every corner of the world, people know the famous Coca-Cola logo. There are few places on the entire planet that a person might venture to and find Coke products scarce and in low supply, including underdeveloped nations. If the Coca-Cola Company has access to these distant regions and manages to vend their products, why do these nations go without vital medications and health treatments?

Simon Berry, a worker for UK Aid, originally had this question which led to the birth of an organization: ColaLife. ColaLife began on the Internet in 2008, and since, has gained thousands of online-based supporters. Running on a staff primarily composed of volunteers, ColaLife utilizes the same means that the Coca-Cola Company and other worldwide producers use to put their products in every place they can. The organization accomplishes these goals by making use of innovations and networks, like those at Coca-Cola, and opening supply chains and distribution channels for simple medications to reach those in need.

The statistics speak for themselves – in many of these developing areas of the world, 1 in 9 children die at very young ages to preventable diseases, such as diarrhea, the second largest killer of children. Statistics such as this one are what prompted Simon and others to put the plans for ColaLife in motion and provide assistance and medicine in areas where they were previously inaccessible.

Aside from donations and sponsorships, ColaLife has also taken to the internet and social media to bring awareness to these preventable deaths and their mission to end them. The independent non-profit group can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and they also maintain YouTube and SoundCloud channels.

– Ryan Miller

Sources: ColaLife, Product Design of The Year 2013
Photo: The Dieline