Improved Cook Stoves Programme Lao PDR

Most of the low-income population in Lao PDR, both in the rural and urban areas depends primarily on wood and charcoal for their cooking and heating needs. The Renewable Energy Development Strategy in Lao  PDR  2011  report  indicates  that  cooking  fuel  accounts  for  70%  of  the  nation’s  overall  energy consumption. This high dependence on biomass resources degrades local environments; demands considerable  time in fuel collection, is costly and creates indoor air pollution that causes the premature death of 2,600 people each year (according to the WHO). Further, the burning of coal and wood adds considerably   to  green  house  gas  emissions.  

Recognising   these  challenges,   initiatives  to  promote improved cook stoves known as the Tao Payat Stove or the “Savings” Stove have taken place since 1997 by FAO, USAID, and few local NGOs. Today, five producers in Vientiane, Savannakhet and Champasak producing ICS of a varying quality have benefitted from earlier initiatives.

Oxfam NOVIB, SNV and WWF in 2010 performed an in-depth research on the cook stove sector and its value chain. The study indicated challenges in supply and demand affecting the sustainability of the value chain. At production level, challenges related to low productivity, low-quality of improved cook stoves, too high production  costs  and lack of incentives  and/or  drivers  as well as proper  mechanism  to hold the producers  accountable.  Policy and institutional  framework  such as national  quality standard  for stoves and  an  accredited  testing  agency  are  yet  to  be  in  place.  The  study  indicated  the  importance  of organisation among ICS producers to develop internal monitoring to maintain sustainability and quality of the products, thus securing a long-term market niche and bargaining power. On the second level of the ICS chain, retailers are not well informed  on varieties  in quality between  the improved  and other cook stoves don’t know well the benefits of the ICS or are not equipped with the needed marketing skills for the promotion of the ICS. At the top of the chain, the consumers,  in particular those away from production centres, are not well aware of the social and environmental benefits of ICS. Lastly, a multi-stakeholder dialogue structure between SME/cook stove producers and retailers, government, financiers, civil society is yet  to be  established  to address  further  challenges  and  gaps  of ICS  chain  in Laos  and  therefore ensuring sustained consumption and production system of the ICS.

Brief Description of the Action

The proposed Action follows a pilot phase, replicates the activities and lessons learned, up-scaled from 1 to 5 provinces.  It uses recommendations  and findings  of a cook stoves  value chain study.  The study showed challenges at all levels of the supply chain. The proposed Action entails scaling up the ICS programme, providing a robust platform for replication and application of best practices. The pilot phase (2011-2012) is supported by Oxfam NOVIB, SNV Lao PDR and the Blue Moon Fund in partnership with Association for Rural Mobilisation and Improvement (ARMI/NORMAI) program already received positive support from Government, testing   agencies,   consumers/users,   retailers   and   producers.   Further,   it  is  well  noted   that  other stakeholders  have expressed  their interest  to contribute  and take part in this initiative.  Oxfam  NOVIB, SNV  and  ARMI/NORMAI  will  therefore  extend  the  existing  partnership  in  an  ongoing  effort  to  establish  a sustainable market-based ICS sector including different stakeholders.


The overall objective is to contribute towards poverty alleviation in Lao PDR through the development of a sustainable consumption and production chain of cleaner and fuel efficient Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) which will promote the efficient use of wood and charcoal and lower greenhouse gas emission.

The specific objectives are:

  1. By the end of 2016, the sustainable production and consumption of cleaner and fuel efficient Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) is well established, 50% of the market share of cook stoves will be dominated by the ICS.
  2. The target consumers in the five target provinces will have better awareness and access to purchase the ICS, as an affordable and high quality alternative to the traditional cook stoves.

Target groups

  1. Producer SMEs: 15 improved cook stove producers
  2. Retailer SMEs:150 cook stove retailers

The Lao Women’s Union, as consumer network that will provide awareness campaigns at village level to end users. 4.Testing Agencies: The Provincial Department of Science and Technology (DST)

Final beneficiaries       

Consumers/users:  100,000 women purchasing the ICS that save time and money and reduce indoor air pollution, reaching out to a total of 600,000 low income persons.

Estimated results        

By the end of 2016:

  1. 15  small  and  medium  enterprise  (SME)  stove  producers  are  able  to  sustainably produce 100,000 high quality ICS.
  2. 150 SME retailers, the majority in the five target provinces, successfully promote the ICS and have improved their marketing strategies.
  3. Lao Women’s Union in the five target provinces fully assumes its role as an effective “Promotional Partner”.
  4. Access to clean and fuel efficient ICS is improved (availability, geographical, pricing).
  5. Five Testing  Agencies  operational  as independent  Quality  Label’s  provider  of the ICS.
  6. National quality standard of cleaner and fuel efficient ICS is endorsed by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
  7. Multi-stakeholder  partnership is established between stove producers, retailers with consumer network, financiers and authorities.

Main activities 

Up scaling of the current ICS programme activities:

  1. Introduce improved production methods to producers;
  2. Provide selling and marketing skills training to the network of retailers;
  3. Village workshops and mass media advertisements  to make users aware of the advantages  of ICS;
  4. Facilitate  exchanges  between  respective  ICS stakeholders; and 
  5. Cooperation  with  the  government  to  establish  effective  policies  and  stove standards.

Location: Provinces of Savannakhet, Khammouane, Champasak, Vientiane and Vientiane Capital.

Duration: 48 months



This programme is funded by European Union





This programme is funded by European Union