In the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and ITDG established the Urban Woodburning Stoves Project (UWSP), which was designed to establish a sustainable market for improved stoves through commercial channels. The owners of a number of tile factories in Negombo, north of Colombo, employed potters who were trained by the project to make two-pot Anagi stoves. The stoves were fired using the excess capacity in the factories' kilns, and distributed through their established marketing channels.

Between 1987 and 1990 an estimated 80 000 Anagi stoves were sold in and around Colombo. Users reported significant savings of fuel or time compared with the three-stone fire, and the popularity of the Anagi was reflected in a steadily growing demand, both in Colombo and in other areas of Sri Lanka.

In October 1990 ITDG and the Integrated Development Association (IDEA), a newly established NGO involved in energy and environment issues, embarked on the rural stoves production project, which was designed to make the Anagi widely available throughout the island, and to bring the benefits of stove production to poor rural potters. A number of enterprising potters had already begun to produce imitation Anagi, dubbed pirate or look-alike stoves (LAS). Performance tests showed the LASs to be inferior to the official Anagi stove; however, their appearance on the market was taken as further evidence of the success of the UWSP.

Trainees were initially identified by tracing producers of LASs. Of the first seven selected, in Kandy and Matale districts, six were LAS producers. Training lasts between three and four months, during which time the trainers spend the equivalent of 12 to 15 full days with each potter. Training is conducted largely on a one-to-one basis, although some aspects, particularly in the early stages, can be demonstrated to a group. Training is not limited to production alone; the project also provides business training to enable the potters to maximize their income from stove production, through the calculation of production economics and the development of marketing strategies.

Stove marketing

During the first year of the project a survey of stove retailers in Kandy, Matale and Kurunegala districts was carried out. This showed that retailers stocked a wide variety of improved ceramic stoves, ranging from the simple one-pot Chulha to Anagi stoves brought in from the tile factories at Negombo. Included in the range was a large number of LAS designs.

One of the aims of the survey was to assess potential demand for the Anagi on the part of the retailers. This entailed persuading retailers of the advantages of the Anagi over LAS. While there was some initial reluctance to stock the Anagi - it was felt that LAS, being cheaper, had greater market appeal and, therefore, offered the prospect of higher profits - a number of retailers agreed to do so on condition that the project provide support through advertising and guaranteed quality control.

The project paid for the production of 10 000 posters, 200 notice boards and 10 large hoardings. The posters have been widely distributed in the central districts and each retailer has been supplied with a notice board. The message on all the publicity material is consistent:

Anagi fuelwood stoves for faster easier cooking!

Stoves are sold with a leaflet, which gives instructions on the installation and use of the stove, and a 'collar' which proves that they have been made by trained producers. The leaflet and the collar both reiterate the slogan.

Estimated sales figures indicate that the promotion campaign has had a major impact on public awareness of the Anagi. In the final quarter of 1992, over 11 000 Anagi were produced, and retailers reported that the demand during the first quarter of 1993 was exceptionally high. This was largely due to the Sinhalese New Year, which falls in April, when it is traditional to carry out a spring clean and replace old pots, pans and other items of kitchen equipment. These figures suggest total sales in the region of 40000 per year, compared with the project's original target of 30 000 stoves annually by the end of the second year.

Working with other organizations

UWSP has no control over who purchases the stoves, and so cannot be certain that the Anagi is reaching the poor households which are seen as the main 'target' beneficiaries. However, Sri Lanka is home to a large, well-established and widely respected network of community development organizations and the project is working with a number of these, as a means of making the stoves available to poor users. In some cases this is achieved through direct dissemination programmes, where stoves are given away or sold at subsidized prices as part of a community development programme; in other cases, the agencies allow people to pay for the stoves in installments.

Benefits to producers

The potters with whom the project works are economically rational and will not start to make a new product unless they are convinced they can profit from it. This is particularly true when the training requires the potters to give up several days of their time. Few potters are able to make direct comparisons between their income from stove production and that from other items. The fact that only two of the trained potters have given up making stoves (and that for noneconomic reasons), allied with ample anecdotal evidence, suggests that Anagi stoves are more profitable than other products such as water jars or cooking pots.

There are only a few instances of potters choosing not to make stoves because they do not anticipate making a profit. In her study of the potters in the village of Ambagahawewa, Kiran Dhanapala reports that, of 77 potters who said they would not be interested in learning to make the Anagi, only five cited lack of profit as the reason. The majority spoke of a lack of resources and facilities, or gave non-economic reasons such as the perceived difficulty of production or unwillingness to learn a new skill.

Benefits to users

Evidence of user benefits is also mainly anecdotal, based on discussions with users, rather than actual measurements of fuel efficiency, time savings or reduced smoke emissions. Users cite the same benefits - faster cooking, the use of two pots and fuel savings - time and again. Direct observation also tends to support these views: the majority of homes which have an Anagi appear to use it regularly and there is a general view that the Anagi can meet the full range of a cook's needs, except cooking large quantities, for which most households revert to the three-stone fire.

Survey of Anagi users
Reason for purchase UrbanRuralTotal
Fuel savings646867
Ease of use181314
Speed of cooking1899
Two pots999
Advantages of Anagi
Fuel savings746466
Two pots575051
Speed of cooking182625
Ease of use544
Heat conserved422
No advantages232
Breaks easily645
Cannot cook large quantities945
Cannot be cleaned243
Cannot use just one pot544

In addition to this, the project has commissioned two nationwide surveys, to assess levels of awareness and market penetration of the Anagi among 2000 randomly selected households throughout Sri Lanka. The results of the 1991 Omnibus Survey suggest that most purchasers find that the stoves meet their expectations.

The demand for improved stoves continues to grow among retailers and users. The following article brings us up to date with the progress of the project.
Last edited by Miriam Hansen .
Page last modified on Tuesday October 5, 2010 08:52:49 GMT.
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