Among the primary obstacles faced by attempts to improve the effectiveness and success rates of improved cookstove (ICS) dissemination programs in Asia is the concentration of technical and programmatic skills among a few given experts in improved cookstove research and design. This concentration of technical expertise is most evident at the national level where the skills gap separating technical stove experts and the organisations that take on field level dissemination is a large one. In some countries, such as Nepal or Bangladesh, there may be only one recognised stove expert who takes on all R&D and training activities. In recognition of this, the Asia Regional Cookstove Program (ARECOP) based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and the Regional Wood Energy Development Programme (RWEDP) based in Bangkok, Thailand embarked on a co-operative effort to develop a training module for use in national training courses to be implemented in selected Asian countries.
The module, which essentially consists of a model training course, comprises 2 manuals:
(1) A Trainee Manual which contains information related to the model training course promulgated by the module and handouts used during the training course. It includes chapters on biomass use in Asia; assessing the community context, the kitchen, the stove user and gender analysis; stove design; stove construction; stove dissemination; monitoring and evaluation; and there is a chapter on stove selection as a socio-technical process. There are also a number of annexes consisting of assessment tools, samples of assessment information, various ICS designs, a pre-training assessment form and a list of references and contacts. This manual is for distribution to participants before the start of a training course.
(2) A Trainers Manual which is divided into three parts. The first part, which is the briefest, provides a framework for a 10 days training course and introduces a four stage model of the stove selection process; the second part, comprising the bulk of the manual, presents the 40 sessions which comprise the model training course (a list of these sessions can be found in Appendix 1); the third part of the manual gives advice and guidance on formulating a training agenda.
The goal of the training module is to increase the acceptability of improved stoves within the countries where the training is held. The targets of the training are ICP field workers. The training aims to transfer skills so that ICP field workers are able to:
· evaluate current stove designs based on combustion and heat transfer concepts, knowledge of raw materials and technical stove parts in addition to the needs, wants and conditions of the target group;
· determine appropriate modifications/improved stove designs based on the needs, wants and conditions of the target group in addition to technical knowledge;
· become familiar with construction techniques for a selection of different stove designs;
· determine an appropriate dissemination strategy based on existing technology dissemination channels and the improved stove design to be disseminated;
· incorporate gender analysis into stove design selection and introduction; and
· monitor the progress of a stove program and troubleshoot where necessary.
Essentially the model training course is designed to develop the trainees' understanding of the four stage stove selection process (see Figure 1). Practically, this is to be achieved by means of the trainees determining an improved cookstove design for a case study area, and then, during the final day of the training course, determining an improved cookstove design for the area in which they normally work. The training is highly participatory in nature.
As mentioned earlier, the first national training course was held in Indonesia from November 27 through December 5, 1996 on Lombok Island. This national training course was viewed as a 'test' of the training module. One of the specific questions that needed to be answered was would trainers be able to take the module and run a successful training course on their own.
Overall the Indonesian national training course was successful, thus confirming the module's utility. The process-centred module was successful in getting the Indonesian trainees to integrate technical and social factors into the two stove designs which they came up with. This in itself was a leap ahead of most other improved cookstove training courses which have been held throughout Asia during the last few decades and which have mainly focused on the transfer of one or two improved cookstove designs in isolation from their intended social context.
A number of improvements to the module and suggestions for future training courses were discussed at regular evening feedback meetings of the training team and a few experts, and at the training team's final evaluation meeting. It was generally felt that it was very important that trainers of future training courses should understand and be able to internalise the flow and steps of the stove selection process used in the training module, to ensure that the module is used correctly. Secondly, translation of the module (the original is in English) to the local language was thought to be crucial and it was recommended that translation be done by someone who is familiar with the content, flow and process of the module so that the translated version will not deviate from the original. Failing this, at the very least the translation should be edited by someone who is familiar with the content, flow and process of the module. The prospective trainers were thought to be the best group to carry out this translation or editing work as they were familiar with the technical and social concepts used in the module and it would give them an opportunity to clear up any confusion regarding training content and methods, which might creep in to a translation, before the training course gets off the ground. A further recommendation was that each national training course should allow for two days of preparation time for the trainers immediately preceding a course.
In recognition of the highly specific and innovative content of the module, especially the unique process of stove design selection, and the need to use trainers with experience in participatory training methods, it was suggested that an Asian Regional Training of Trainers (TOT) Workshop should be organised to prepare future trainers in the region. The fact that separate parties are responsible for the creation of the module and its implementation also merited a TOT to provide an opportunity to ensure that prospective trainers have a full understanding of the module. A TOT would undoubtedly benefit trainers who needed to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the stove selection process. For example, it was acknowledged that experienced trainers in stove design might not be familiar with participatory training methods and that technical experts are usually inexperienced in social assessment and vice versa. Moreover, in some countries in the region (e.g. Cambodia) it was not possible to find trainers with improved cookstove technical experience and the TOT would be able, to some extent, to remedy this.
The expected outputs of the TOT were that prospective trainers would:
· understand adult learning styles and the reason behind using participatory training methods;
· understand why the stove selection process is used and understand how the training progresses towards the identification of an appropriate stove design and work plan;
· be familiar with the technical and social components of the training module;
· have the opportunity to practice the participatory training methods employed and receive feedback for improvement; and
· be clear about their individual roles and responsibilities while being able to work harmoniously with their colleagues on national training teams.
Figure 1: Model National Training Framework