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In Asia, the need for improved cookstoves (ICS) is as pressing as ever. A re-evaluation of regional energy related data shows there has been no overall fuel switch away from biomass, and suggests that for many decades to come most people will remain dependent on woodfuels. Furthermore, notwithstanding the great advances made in China and India, not even half of the households in Asia have adopted ICS. Continuous efforts from both GOs and NGOs to disseminate ICS are required to improve the situation.

The socio-economic and environmental benefits of ICS and their benefits in terms of improved health and relief of drudgery, particularly for women and children, may be obvious. However, the complexities associated with the design, production and introduction of improved stoves are not always appreciated. Outsiders often find it difficult to understand why the dissemination of such a simple commodity meets so many obstacles. Unfortunately, also quite a few people who are personally involved in stove activities are not fully familiar with the intricacies of building and disseminating ICS.

To rectify this situation the Regional Wood Energy Development Programme (RWEDP) and the Asia Regional Cookstove Programme (ARECOP) have jointly developed a training module for use in national training courses to be held throughout the region, particularly in those countries where stove development is still highly centralized. These national training courses are envisaged as being highly participatory and aim to transfer the relevant design and dissemination skills by hands-on training. Training manuals for use by trainers and trainees, it should be noted, are translated into local languages and distributed in advance of any course. Such courses, it is believed, will lead to better quality control and more effective strategies for meeting users' needs and overcoming any obstacles to stove adoption. Where necessary, to ensure that national trainers fully understand the innovative content of the training module and are fully able to use a participatory training approach, a training of the trainers workshop has been organized prior to the implementation of national training courses.

Thanks are due to the ARECOP experts and the many dedicated stove disseminators in the field, as well as Mr. Auke Koopmans, wood energy conservation specialist at RWEDP, for their tireless efforts to help improve the household energy situation in Asia.

Dr. W.S. Hulscher, Chief Technical Adviser, FAO/RWEDP

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