Estimated Result 4: Access to the clean and fuel efficient ICS is improved (availability, geographical, pricing).

Estimated Result 4: Access to the clean and fuel efficient ICS is improved (availability, geographical, pricing).

Although market demand exists, establishing a solid market niche for the ICS has been problematic because of inconsistencies in the supply side and price undercutting by cheaper but lower quality knock-off models. By boosting production (as per measures taken in ER1), the supply chain will be strengthened to the point where all participating retailers should be assured of consistent product availability. The roll out of ICS production chain to five provinces will increase geographic availability. A successful promotion of the ICS that ensures consumers equate the ICS label with guaranteed quality and cost savings will increase market share and lead to price stability. Taken together, these efforts (consistent production, geographic expansion and price stability) will assure ICS access even as market share grows. At the end of the four years lifespan of the Action, wood and charcoal ICS labelled models produced by at least 15 producers – located in 5 provinces - will be regularly available in the shops of 150 retailers for distribution to consumers. Both retailers and producers will be evenly geographically dispatched over the five targeted provinces according to the demand.

During the pilot project, ARMI/NORMAI has already proven its ability to coordinate a range of diverse stakeholders. Throughout the Action a continuous coordination with these players at a considerably larger scale will be ensured.

Main Activity 4: Improving Access to the ICS

This package encompasses a prolongation of current efforts to optimize the design of the ICS model and the related production tools, prior to commencing large-scale production. Design efforts are being led by a scientific and technical team at Ubon Ratchathani university in north-east Thailand who are well known for their expertise in locally appropriate woodstove design. This is perceived as an appropriate choice by partners due to the geographic, cultural and linguistic proximity of the university’s team. Design efforts will, nonetheless, take into account slight nuances (mainly with regard to optimal dimensions, affordability, clay composition and mould size) of the specific Lao market. This activity package also foresees formal set up of the requisite database and the development and initial application of customer and market surveys that will enable adequate tracking of the Action’s intended outcomes, improving the access of the ICS to the consumers.

Ensuring the access of ICS to households in the five provinces, the Action will adopt the following strategy. In year one of the Action, the expansion of production processes and engagement with retailers will be carried out in the three provinces that are targeted first: Vientiane Capital, Pakse Province and Savannakhet. These are the most highly populated provinces and are therefore important for the cook stoves market. The partners of the Action will engage with 150 retailers in urban areas and semi-urban areas. The Action will expand the mapping and engagement in the first three provinces, however will prioritize to work with those retailers having high volume of sales and high commitment to the Action. Finally, once the improved cook stove production is adopted and disseminated in the first three provinces, the geographical expansion in the other two neighbouring provinces will be made possible through replication of good practices. The onset of the expansion in these last two provinces is planned during the year two.

The database aims to verify the effectiveness of the Action in regards to access, by recording the stoves distribution from the production to the retailers and finally to the consumer households. The Action will have a comprehensive database that is able to accurately map out the ICS value chain from produces to users. And finally, the access will also be improved through the higher quality of the stove which will expand their lifetime. Hence, the consumers will be able to use less fuels over longer time, resulting in cost-effectiveness over a longer period.

This programme is funded by European Union