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Cooking stove experiment

Lodi is an enthusiastic volunteer in the Netherlands who helps establishing our organization on social media. The past weeks she rolled up her sleeves and volunteered in Laos.

In the capital city Vientiane she met up with the Foundation for volunteers from the Netherlands (SNV). SNV supports public, private and civil organizations in developing countries in three main domains: agriculture, water and renewable energy. Lodi spoke to Bastiaan Teune who is responsible for the energy department of SNV.

Most families in Laos use ceramic cooking stoves and mainly use wood that they collect in the forest. However, burning wood produces lots of smoke, it's bad for the environment, and collecting wood is very labour-intensive. They could also use charcoal, but it's expensive. Moreover, for charcoal production large pieces of wood are harvested in the woods. They are then put on fire to make charcoal, which leads to a waste of heat and energy and lots of smoke.

In close collaboration with the SNV Lodi took some special cooking stoves with her. These cooking stoves are developed by Philips. They are equipped with a little fan, which is why the stove only needs little fuel. Some small branches are enough to keep the stove going, and these branches are easy to find anywhere. If the fan is used correctly the heat can be regulated and only little smoke is produced. That's an important feature because smoke produced during cooking is almost as unhealthy as cigarette smoke and kills about 4 million people a year worldwide, mainly women and children.

Lodi introduced these clean cooking stoves with the local association. She says: “The cooking stoves have been used for a week now and people are very enthusiastic. I heard from one family that even the children manage to use the stove without a problem. Another family that sells meat on the street tells us that all their customers are interested in that new cook stove! The local association, KCDA, wants to know as soon as possible where the stoves will be for sale. They hope to establish themselves a little more in the Khong District by offering the new cooking stoves, I think.”

The expected lifespan of the stoves is 4 years at the most, including some repairs. People would save 10.000 kip (€ 1,-) worth of coals per week, minus some repair costs, and are willing to pay (€ 10,--) for this new stove. However, the cooking stoves are not available yet, and cannot be easily repaired if there's an issue. Right now they are just being used as a backup stove, a fast cooker, and for preparing meals that require little time.

Bastiaan explains: “At this point the Philips stove is not for sale yet, but we hope they will be in the course of the next year. The price is unknown as we will need to come up with some kind of ‘smart subsidy’.

Right now they cost 65 USD ex works. The costs for shipment and sales etc. will only increase the consumer price resulting in a price much higher than what people want to or are able to pay.”

The board in the Netherlands and the KCDA members will follow the developments closely. We will keep you posted through our website and the newsletters!