At the origin, One Stick in Burma
When did the Improved Cookstoves story in Burma begin? Why did they find the idea interesting so early on? And how did they develop a program to provide cookstoves to Burmese households?
Let’s go back to 1987 when the One Stick was designed; the very first improved stove produced in Burma.
This first generation Burmese improved cookstove (ICS) uses to consume 38% less fuel than Three Stone Stove, reduce the cooking time, and its price had to be low enough to be affordable for a larger number of households.
The device had great values at that time when only a few people were working on cooking solutions.
A first generation device also means defects and a prototype is rarely a perfect product without improvements.
As a result, this first ICS used to crack quickly and so they looked for better materials mix to strengthen it.
Where was it disseminated?
The targeted area was the dry zone where they noticed a state of emergency and designed the program to maintain the arid region’s ecosystem, to contribute to socio-economic development of the rural areas, to raise awareness on the environment, to mitigate the climate change and to prevent desertification for agriculture.
This device was distributed first in Mintainbin, in the South of the Shan State.
It’s in 1992 that the Forest Research Institute (FRI) decided to improve this design.
How to improve the design?
One of the FRI researchers went to Bangkok for a workshop on the topic. When he came back to Yangon, he brought back enough information and data to improve the One Stick. They called the new designed stove the “A-1”.
It was time to implement and up-scale the new product to have greater effects on the environment and families’ health.
To implement a larger program, FRI decided to manufacture the A-1 stoves and they set-up a factory to produce the device in Yezin. They started the production in October 1994.
The A-1 stove has been disseminated more than its elder brother, the One Stick, and reached 481,397 people from 1997 to 2012 in 3 regions: Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway.
The FRI not only produced improved cookstoves but also briquettes, plum seeds, and implemented a project on the collection of dry palm leaves.
After 20 years, it was time to find out what were the positive and negative points of the program.
One interesting finding on the program is that end-users understand the stoves’ benefits when explained but can’t afford the device (1200 Kyats, approx. 1.16 USD). They concluded that the Government needs to establish an Integrated Financial Strategy to reach more households.
A second finding is about technology development. They’d like, at this moment (2012), to get a better knowledge on Renewable Energies and decided to focus on Electrical energy and Energy Saving Stoves in the future. In Burma, only 3 % of the population uses electricity for cooking.
When we asked the Professor Aung Kyin, Retired Rector at the University of Forestry, why those programs didn’t reach as many people as they were expecting, he answered that “distribution is low, there is no advertisement for these stoves, people don’t know the A-1 stove”.
He emphasized that advertising is one of the most important components of the project if we want it to be successful.
This project is funded by the European Union, by the FFEM, the Fondation RAJA and the Fondation Lord Michelham of Hellingly