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Kit Yamoyo

Anti-diarrhoea kit for Africa wins world’s top design award

A wedge-shaped package containing medical supplies that fits exactly into the spaces between Coca-Cola bottles when they are delivered in plastic crates has been been selected by The Design Museum in London as its Product Design of the Year 2013. It must be the first time that an anti-diarrhoea kit has taken centre stage as a design icon… [Click pic to enlarge]

Dubbed ‘Kit Yamoyo’ and the brainchild of a Zambian NGO, ColaLife, the design enables life-saving medicines such as anti-diarrhoea kits to be delivered in developing countries at no extra delivery cost by “piggybacking” on Coke deliveries.

The concept stems from a question that bothered UK Aid worker Simon Berry in Zambia, in 1988: Coca-Cola is available even in remote villages yet simple medicines to treat the second biggest childhood killer, diarrhoea, are not. Why?

Says Berry: “How can it be right that Coca-Cola reaches remote rural villages in Africa, yet simple lifesaving medicines for children don’t? Instead of blaming Coke, we studied its success: you can get a product or service to anywhere in the world if you make it affordable.”

When Simon re-visited the idea in 2008, his wife Jane suggested making use of the unused space in a cola crate to carry an anti-diarrhoea kit. By 2009, Simon and Jane had set up the ColaLife charity, and, from their kitchen table – using social media – won the goodwill of Coca-Cola to explore the idea.

Funded by an award from UnLtd in 2010, they gave up their jobs to bring together some of the best minds from big business, academia and non-profits: supply chain experts, health experts, logistics and design.

Kit YamoyoAfter a chance meeting at a presentation, packaging experts, PI Global, took the brief to design a robust pack to carry WHO recommended diarrhoea treatments, a clever plastic container which, vitally, helps illiterate mothers in rural Africa accurately measure water for the child-sized sachets of Oral Rehydration Salts it provides. Also containing zinc to help prevent diarrhoea recurring and soap for hand-washing, the pack – dubbed ‘AidPod’ by the BBC – acts as a cup and a re-sealable storage vessel. [Click pic to enlarge]

Most important, ‘Kit Yamoyo’ was designed with input from African mothers and carers, most of whom live many hours’ walk from a health centre.

In Zambia, where a trial is underway, independent rural retailers are buying it by the boxful, to carry out to their small shops in remote villages, because it’s designed to yield a profit – just like Coca-Cola does. These retailers, trained by the project, have, in the last six months, bought over 20,000 units to sell at ZMK5 each (just under $1). The most promising retailers are not only serving their own community but making a gross profit on this new product of $25 to $60 per month. In rural Zambia, that feeds a family.

Kit YamoyoAs Simon and Jane, who are now in Zambia managing the project, agree: “We started with the space in the crate, but much more important for the long term is the space in the market. The millions of the world’s poor want good, affordable design that meets their needs. They don’t have much to spend and want to spend it well, ideally close to where they live. Good design is not only for the rich: the poor of the world deserve the dignity of attention, from designers and from corporates as well as from the public sector and aid agencies.”

The UK’s Department for International Development is the trial’s majority funder and Justine Greening, the UK’s International Development Secretary, said: “I warmly congratulate ColaLife for this tremendous achievement. Their innovative use of Coke’s distribution system to deliver vital supplies is helping to save countless lives. It is a fantastic example of how we can work hand in hand with business to help alleviate the suffering of the world’s poorest people.”

To Get Medicine to Africa, Health Experts Turn to Coca-Cola

Running water, electricity, and paved roads are hard to find in the remotest parts of sub-Saharan Africa. A bottle of warm Coca-Cola, though? No sweat. This impressive reach isn’t lost on public health advocates. They are looking to Coke’s distribution network to bring cheap, life-saving medication to some of the world’s most remote places. … read more

See more on the Designs of the Year 2013

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