Interning with ICS #4: Quality control


Khamsone Chantavong is doing an internship with the Energy sector of SNV in Laos for 6 months as part of his training at the Bio Force Institute in France. The logistics specialist is working on implementation and process management related to the Improved Cookstoves (ICS) Programme.

This has been another busy month with the improved cookstoves team here at SNV! After I returned from my last trip to the field in Savannakhet province, I attended the annual retreat with our partners from ARMI, coming from three different provinces. The purpose of this retreat was to refresh our skills and simplify our work with laboratory testing and producers/retailers’ support mechanisms. After the retreat, I also attended a workshop that some of my colleagues led for partners ARMI and RENMI on quality control and quality assurance.

Following those skills refreshers, I headed back to the field for another two-week field trip. On this trip I was following up the work that I did last month in Xonnabouri district, Savannakhet province, this time accompanied by Mr. Stephen Walker, the owner of African Clean Energy (ACE). Our job was to prepare the Kitchen Performance Test (KPT) for the LIRE team. We tried to improve the management of quality control of the ACE stove by improving diagnostic and technical maintenance skills. We also visited all of the households in three villages to take an inventory of functioning and malfunctioning stoves in order to provide technical support.

"Flexibility is one of the major qualities that I feel I’ve developed in order to deal with my work here."

I really enjoyed working on this project and continuing the work that I started there. Visiting for the second time, I continued to develop good relationships with the households and sellers at the market to promote our stoves. I enjoyed doing the capacity building with two village women to follow up maintenance of the stoves. However, I found it challenging to simplify the complex concepts to make it understandable for them, as they had only a basic educational background. This reinforced a major lesson I’ve learned from the fieldwork, which is that the simplest things are not always obvious to everyone, and it may take a long time for villagers to understand and apply our trainings. Therefore, flexibility is one of the major qualities that I feel I’ve developed in order to deal with my work here.

My next projects will be working to design and produce an instructional movie for the Adapted Water Boiling Test (AWBT) on quality control procedures and participate in the promotion and distribution of the ACE stoves. Finally, some exciting news is that as of March 1, I have been offered a position as a consultant advisor of the ICS programme, so I will be continuing to work with SNV now that my internship is coming to a close. I am looking forward to continuing the work I’ve started and hoping to make a contribution to the Energy team here in Laos!