Strengthening cold chain storage for COVID-19 vaccines

Kingdom of Eswatini

April 2021 – September 2023


In 2021, as Eswatini began receiving COVID-19 vaccines, the Ministry of Health faced an urgent task: strengthening the cold chain and distribution systems to support swift and equitable vaccine distribution, especially to vulnerable populations at high risk of severe COVID-19.

In partnership with USAID and The Coca-Cola Foundation, Project Last Mile supported the Ministry of Health in improving vaccine access and availability in the last mile. This involved supporting cold chain infrastructure and strategic distribution planning, readiness for COVID-19 vaccination, and maintenance and service support for ultra-cold chain equipment.

Project Last Mile leveraged a trusted third-party service provider from The Coca-Cola System to evaluate and repair cold chain equipment. Additionally, Project Last Mile utilized its technical expertise to conduct a national audit of the cold chain, forge key partnerships—including with Pfizer—and offer capacity-building assistance to Ministry of Health staff.


  • Eswatini’s vaccine cold chain storage capacity was expanded by 31.4%, allowing for the effective storage of 1.5 million vaccines and preventing the wastage of 15,210 doses of Pfizer vaccines.
  • Capacity building for 125 healthcare workers on cold chain logistics, including training 12 Ministry of Health staff members on operating and maintaining ultra-low temperature freezers.
  • Increased cost-effectiveness achieved through preventative maintenance services, eliminating the need for repairs and enhancing the sustainability of existing cold chain equipment.

“We had so many things to learn because it was the first time to have a vaccine that needed an ultra-cold chain. Project Last Mile’s team guided us in issues related to improved cold chain units and helped create a platform of mutual understanding.”

– Xolisiwe Dlamini, Expanded Program on Immunization Program Manager

This information originally appeared in the 2023 annual report.