Here is today’s interview on the BBC World Service. I was expecting something much more linked up. During the week we’d talked about linking it to the WaterAid publication (Tackling the silent killer) that came out last week to coincide with the G8 Summit. In the end it was a standalone slot just 4 minutes long.
Thanks to The World Today weekend team for setting this opportunity up.
On Sunday (13/7/08) at 5am (BST) I’ll be on my bike on my way to BBC Bush House for the Weekend edition of The World Today on the BBC World Service. I’ll be discussing the Coca-Cola Campaign with a panel of people which includes a Professor of Econmic Development from Kenya who will be in the Nairobi studio.
Last week, we heard from Adrian Ristow, an independent contractor now working
with Coca-cola in Africa, doing some on-the-ground research into what makes local distribution
models work. He’s now going to look at whether there is mileage in our idea to
distribute rehydration salts as part of his work, as the research in the field
gets underway. Here he explains the model that Coca-Cola is interested in, and
how the programme came about.
the last year or so, Coca-Cola became interested in a model for local
distribution based on the work of Coca-Cola Sabco and some other bottlers in Africa. This model is known as the
Manual Distribution Centre (MDC) model. Seeing that it had a lot of potential,
Coca-Cola wanted to understand how it works, what makes it successful, and what
promise it might offer. Our ultimate goal is to build an enhanced and
replicable model that supports the commitment to the Business Call to Action.
Big ideas – but it all starts with small steps, some real understanding of what
works locally, and lots of involvement from the people that really matter: the
local communities, the local businesses, and their customers.
decided to research the model with a specific focus on its socio-economic impact. In other words, what difference
is it really making to how people earn and live?
Tanzania was chosen as the research and
pilot market, and I’ll be reporting to you from there shortly.
the past year we have been collecting information about the Manual Distribution
Centre system’s overall impact as well as focusing on
Tanzania specifically. We have just entered into a partnership with
the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at the Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard (download PDF), as well as with the International Finance Corporation.
This will help us to complete a more structured research process and to bring
in an independent perspective. As we
speak the core data collection phase is taking place, and I will bring you more
stories from the front line as I gain more insights."
There has been a lot of activity going on behind the scenes recently in our efforts to get an international NGO to engage with the Coca-Cola Campaign. As I have indicated on the Facebook Group this is going to be a challenge.
The biggest leap forward came yesterday from an extremely helpful person in DfID who highlighted a WaterAid Report that was published on Monday (7/7/08) to coincide with the G8 Summit.
Above is a scan of page 6 of the report. As you can see, Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) are the highest cost intervention when it comes to extending children’s lives BUT hygiene and sanitation promotion are at the top. We have always said, and I have said it in all of the interviews I have given, that education and awareness raising are just as important in this campaign as anything else. Now we have the data to show that.
LESSONS LEARNT: We need to be far more careful in our approach to NGOs. The two-sentence description of what we are doing is not enough. We need to spell out that we are not just about distributing ORS, we are about raising awareness of hygiene and sanitation issues as well. And ORS through Coca-Cola crates is potentailly a very effective way of doing this.
In my interview with Eddie Mair, I said (and I paraphrase) "It’s not as if people in the remote parts of Africa are crying out for rehydration salts. Many would not know what they are or how to use them. But ORS salts arriving in Coca-Cola crates would generate questions. ‘That’s not Coke? What is it?’".
For this reason we have said that the ORS needs to be _inside_ the crates and they need to carry messages. They should be the UK equivalent of the plastic toy in the cereal packet. In addition, Coca-Cola agreeing to do this in a particular locality, may just be the stimulus that the local institutions need to form the foundation of a local campaign.
The research into Coca-Cola’s distribution network in Ethopia and Tanzania, first mentioned here, is now underway and Adrian is the man on the ground. Despite the inevitable connectivity issues that we will face, Adrian has undertaken to keep a dialogue going on the work he is doing and the people he meets. This picture was taken on 3/7/08 when Adrian visted Mubarek, a distribution centre owner and his team in Addis Ababa.
This is going to be a fascinating series of reports I think and to kick things off, here is Adrian’s background in his own words:
Let me first give you some personal context. I worked for nine years
for a bottler (Coca-Cola Sabco) where I saw first-hand the reach and
impact of Coca-Cola into the local community. Most of the countries for
which I carried responsibility (Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya,
Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam)
are emerging markets facing many of the challenges outlined in the Millenium Development Goals (MDG’s), with poverty right at the
forefront. I reached a stage in my career at the end of last year,
where I really wanted to focus my energy more specifically on the role
that large corporates can play in these types of markets, although I
have a particular affinity for Africa specifically. So I proposed to
make a career change to give me the opportunity to pursue this passion
(as well as some others), which includes some further study in this
At about the same time, The Coca-Cola Company was looking for a
project that not only truly demonstrated their commitment to the Business Call to Action, but also showed the ways that they were already
committed to making a difference around wealth creation through local
As things turned out, their needs and my passion overlapped and together we identified a project focused on an innovative distribution system, called the Manual Distribution Centre (MDC) System, being utilised by Coca-Cola Sabco and some other bottlers in Africa as something to pursue. I was, therefore, appointed as an independent contractor to manage the project from earlier this year.
I will be passing on any comments received here and on the Facebook Group to Adrian.
I was very grateful to have been invited to contribute to the inspiring 2gether08 event last Thursday. I attended with two hats on.
In my current role as secondee to CLG, I’d gone there to check out my hunch that this is the sort of event and network that local and national Government needs to engage with if we are to make progress with the Government’s policy of community empowerment. My hunch was right and at the very, very last minute national Government did get involved with Tom Watson MP using the event to promote the ‘mash-up’ competion – Show Us a Better Way. Hopefully their involvement will be better planned and more strategic next year.
While I was there I also did a mini presentation and led a ‘next steps’ discussion with a group of people behind the Coca-Cola Campaign. More on this later.