Living Well in Zambia, chapter 6: training

Live Well has a way of throwing development opportunities at me in the same way that GSK did… most recently in the form of delivering refresher training for our community health entrepreneurs (CHE). I’d planned to observe the training, but due to staff illness, I stepped in to work with sales officer Salome, to deliver the training instead.

It was a bit of a challenge, as though Zambia has English as the sole national language, most people (particularly in the rural areas and compounds in which we work) use their local or tribal language. In Lusaka, these are mainly Nyanja or Bemba, however there are 73 tribes with their own languages across the country. Many of the CHEs felt more comfortable asking their questions through Salome in their language, which I encouraged.

We asked the CHEs to talk about their best selling products, we recapped the uses and specifics of each product. As we offer credit sales to our CHE, I talked about how they can use credit sales to grow their business. We also took time to reward and recognise our best performing CHE which was good to see. I really enjoyed the experience (all six sessions!) and I hope I managed to bring something a bit different compared to previous trainings.

I got two spontaneous rounds of applause which was completely unexpected and meant a lot to me. Now I’m just hoping the encouragement turns into increased sales in the next few weeks.

Our CHE community includes some really inspirational individuals. Spending lots of time out in the field looking at operational issues as well as the recent training has given me a chance to get to know them a bit better. So I thought I’d introduce some of them and the realities of the compounds in a bit more detail.

Most of our CHEs have another source of income in addition to being a Live Well CHE. It’s very common for people to have multiple income streams, with about 80% of all Zambians working in the informal sector (cash in hand, no fixed hours, seasonally variable). Lots of our CHE are community health volunteers or tap attendants. Others have subsistence farms, or are involved in selling other goods. Many will have different jobs throughout the year, with farming having a hugely significant role in the Zambian economy.

Chisha is one of our tap attending CHEs, working in Chazanga compound in Lusaka. She works three hours per day supervising the government-installed bore hole tap, collecting money as people come and fill their buckets, and she earns a percentage of all the money she takes. The money is collected and taken to an office to be handed in, and the meter checked against the money paid.

Some of the certificates I prepared for the CHE for achieving their sales targets. Presenting the certificates and small prizes was a tool I used to promote the sales targets with the team, and encourage others to aspire to improve
Our lovely prizewinning CHE from Chipata and Chazanga compounds, showing off their certificates after the training. They’re an amazing bunch
Phylac, one of our CHEs, proudly showing his certificate and showing off his new Live Well scarf, which was a reward for being the most improved CHE in Kanyama compound. Check out our glamorous training location… WDC stands for ‘ward development office’ which is responsible for managing an area of the compound, which are split into wards for operational management
A lady from the community filling her buckets at the tap in Chazanga compound. Behind you can see the bags of charcoal which are everywhere.
Chisha, one of our CHEs, supervising the tap. She collects money and ensures water isn’t wasted. Despite it being about 25 deg C, she still deemed the coat and woolly hat necessary – out of shot is me in a summer dress…
Dorothy, another of our CHE, but this time in Kanyama compound. Like many of our other tap attending CHEs, she uses her time there to promote her products and make sales – you can just see the boxes of Grandpa!
Roadside market in Chongwe district, which is outside of the city. Here the produce is really cheap and they deliver to your car window as you pass. I paid 80p for a huge carrier bag full of large and juicy tomatoes
Rather than plastic signs here, all the advertising is painted. The quality of some is absolutely brilliant – this wall stood out particularly due to the contrast of the typical construction of the shops and homes around (though this much space isn’t typical). There is litter and dust everywhere.
Typical roadside stalls in town selling the ever-present tomatoes, which are commonly grown as so cheap and easy
Live Well CHE’s bag, showing some of the products they bought this week

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