Vientiane is bustling as the annual That Luang Festival kicks off in the area around one of the city’s most important temples, That Luang Stupa. Every year, this holiday falls in mid-November, and involves a carnival of games and retailers in the area around the stupa, culminating in the religious tradition of early morning alms giving. The event draws many thousands of visitors from outside of Vientiane who pour into town for the holiday, and also for the shopping and entertainment.
Due to the visibility of the event, the Improved Cookstoves (ICS) Programme has set up a booth selling ICS at the carnival for the past few years, as an opportunity to get more of the stoves on the market, as well as to promote and raise awareness about the product.
In 2015, volunteers from ARMI, one of SNV’s partners on the ICS programme, have been manning the booth, which is situated right along a main thoroughfare leading to the That Luang stupa. The booth is decked out with the signature blue designs of the improved cookstoves, which are easily recognisable at any retailer. Thus far, 27 stoves have been sold, with the two busiest days of the festival still to go.
SNV has been working on the ICS Programme since 2010, with partners Oxfam Novib, Blue Moon Fund, and ARMI. The programme is financed from 2013 to 2016 by the European Union. The programme supports the market to supply efficient and durable stoves on the market in Laos.