Interning with ICS #2: Trialling clean stoves in the field


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Khamsone Chantavong is doing an internship with the Energy sector of SNV in Laos for 6 months as part of his training at the Bio Force Institute in France. The logistics specialist is working on implementation and process management related to the Improved Cookstoves (ICS) Programme.

One of the highlights of last month with the Energy team of SNV in Lao PDR was a 5-day work trip to Xonnabouri District, Savannakhet Province, to support a clean stove research project. SNV, together with partners (WB, Berkeley University and LIRE) have been conducting a clean stove research project to better understand air pollution levels using different cookstoves in Laos. Households for the project were selected, and air pollution in their kitchens was measured when using their traditional cookstoves. For the trial SNV provided advanced clean gasifier stoves and trained households in the usage of the ACE1 Pro Clean Stove. 

My role as part of this project has been diverse, starting with working out the logistics of the shipment of the stoves from African Clean Energy all the way from Lesotho to Savannakhet Laos! I then helped the team with repairing, checking, and cleaning 40 ACE stoves that were used before, and preparing the training materials that the households would be receiving. Once in the field, I assisted with the village workshops, including stove introduction, assistance, and installation in three different villages. We taught participants how to use the clean stoves, and then followed up to see the stoves set up and provide guidance on how to use the solar panel.

Villagers were very excited to have received the stoves. When we returned for our follow up visits, we spoke with households about their experiences. Participants responded that the stoves were easy to light and steamed rice quickly. During our field trip we also met with the Vice Governor of Xonnabouri District to discuss the household air pollution study and the clean stove. He was very keen to learn about the study and is interested to be included when the study results are released. 

Assisting with this project in the field has certainly been a learning experience for me. As a result of my participation in this project, I feel that my pragmatic communication, organisation, and logistics skills have all developed. I’ve realized that collaboration with partners is key, as is asking advice of local staff. This has reinforced the lessons of keeping things simple but creative, and not being afraid to make mistakes!