| Boiling Point No. 33 - May 1994 Number 33 |
Manager, Asian Regional Cookstoves Programme (ARECOP),
Jalan Kaliurang KM 7, PO Box 19 Bulaksumur, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
How many Boiling Point readers are familiar with ARECOP?
In the 1980s, Yayasan Dian Desa, an Indonesian appropriate technology NGO, acted as the south-east Asian focal point for FWD (Foundation for Woodstove Dissemination), and through its work it became clear that cookstove production, experts, and regional ICPs (improved cookstove programmes) could greatly benefit from a regional forum. With strong support from the FAO Regional Wood-Energy Development Programme (RWEDP) and FOOD, in 1991 the Asia Regional Cookstove Programme (ARECOP) was born, and soon established cooperation with bodies such as ITDG and GTZ.
A great deal of time, energy and resources has been devoted to developing an environment in which regional organizations have access to information, expertise, communication channels and opportunities to implement ICPs. This process has given increasing clarity to the fundamental role ICPs play in the development of Asian communities.
In the 1980s, the global movement to save trees and forests focused almost exclusively on the fuel-saving aspects of ICPs, which were expected to protect the forests of developing countries from over-exploitation by fuel gatherers. This early premise is no longer the only rationale for the implementation of ICPs.
As Shyam Sundar of ITDG-Sri Lanka has said, 'There's more to stoves than stoves'. This is a lesson which manifests itself daily in the varied roles that stoves play in the homes of people throughout Asia. When ARECOP manager Christina Aristanti was traveling in Sulawesi, she met a village woman who became tired of waiting every day for her husband to bring home firewood for cooking. One evening, after being made to wait longer than usual, she tore down the bamboo wall of her house in frustration and used it to cook dinner for her family. Firewood had often been a cause of quarrels between her husband and herself, as it is in many families where fuelwood is difficult to collect or expensive to buy.
In central Java, villagers still use three stones for cooking despite the widely available Keren stoves. Similarly, many villagers in the hills of Nepal continue to use their old stoves after a more efficient stove has been installed, believing that ill fortune will befall their families if the old stove is broken.
These issues come to light in ICPs wherever they are implemented. The following is a brief list of issues and concerns encompassed in the role of the improved stove:
• conservation and preservation of natural environments;
• renewable biomass energy resources;
• deforestation and re-afforestation;
• energy efficiency;
• women's working role and environrnent;
• health dangers from indoor air pollution;
• improvements in kitchen and living conditions;
• the sustainability of small-scale rural industries using biomass fuel;
• sustainability of stove production and the livelihood of local stove-makers';
• the use of traditional local resources, both human and material;
• adapting technologies to user needs and community involvement in development;
• using improved stoves as a springboard for other programmes;
• the diversity of traditions and beliefs surrounding stoves, kitchens, and family roles.
ARECOP's added value in the region
It is clear, from experience in ARECOP's network countries, (see map opposite) that real benefits have resulted from the increase in communications, the exchange of expertise and the support for local stove initiatives. The evaluation of these will determine what should be included in ARECOP's activities over the next few years.
Based on feedback from its member organizations and contacts, ARECOP plans to allow greater flexibility in the implementation of its programmes. For example, it will shift towards a more decentralized network, by providing opportunities for its Country Contact Points (CCPs) to identify and interpret local needs and trends, and to initiate activities at national or sub-national levels.
The CCP in Vietnam, the Hanoi Architectural Institute (HAI) has carried out a great deal of research and experimentation in kitchen improvements. ARECOP can help other network members who lack these skills and resources, to integrate the findings on this important aspect of ICP work into their programmes.
Other areas that deserve further exploration or replication because of their early success are:
• influencing government organizations to recognize the importance of biomass energy and improved cookstoves and to encourage heightened governmental and non-governmental co-operation towards common goals, as experienced in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines;
• developing in-country networks to facilitate greater co-ordination and communication at a national level. Two national-level consultations have been held in the Philippines resulting in the establishment of a National Working Committee on ICPs consisting of stove experts from throughout the country.
• promoting co-operation with other regional organizations on several international activities such as workshops, training courses, seminars, and collaborative studies;
• examining the role of stoves in the sustainability of small-scale industries using biomass;
• providing support to organizations creating local stove initiatives. For example, a private family planning organization in Vietnam saw the potential for integration into family-health work with technical back-up from the HAI;
• expanding its role in helping to meet the needs of ICPs in the region.
ARECOP's core programme
Within its network of twelve Asian countries, which include the six focus countries of The Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh, ARECOP structures its programmes in four basic components. These will help regional ICPs in: network building and communication, information and publications, training and technical assistance and support for new stove initiatives. This framework allows for extensive consultation with network members in the creation of ARECOP programmes to fulfill their needs.
For example, ARECOP helps to train local manpower through workshops on needs common to organizations throughout the region or to enable network group members to attend training rneetings. Often, a small consultation from ARECOP can allow an organization to develop a new approach or initiative.
ARECOP owes its development as a network to extensive co-oper
ation with its regional counterparts, such as ITDG and GTZ, as well as to the enthusiasm of its CCPs. They provide information and often technical back-up to local organizations which have fewer resources for the development of local ARECOP-supported initiatives. ARECOP publishes a quarterly magazine, GLOW (see Boiling Point, 4 26), which contains articles, technical papers, and research and development reports from its network organizations.