Real World Climate Change Opportunities – An Interview with Dr. Doan Duc Lan

27 Aug

This week, PisaSpeak features an interview from the field with Dr. Doan Duc Lan, Dean of the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry at Tay Bac University, Vietnam. He is an alumnus of the 2009 PISA Summer Institute on Global Climate Change.  Dr. Lan is the team leader of the group awarded a PISA mini-grant for a cook stove introduction project that seeks to reduce deforestation in Ban Nhop Village, Son La Province, Vietnam.  The project also aims to address the negative health consequences to women and girls by replacing traditional open, wood fires with a compact, fuel-efficient ICS stove.

Dr. Doan Duc Lan, Team Leader meeting with Ms. Hong, Vietnam Women’s Union

The ICS project is the result of a PISA-sponsored mini-grant competition to foster local, community-based responses to threats posed by a changing climate. In particular, PISA is committed to using the results and findings of this pilot project – summarized below by Dr. Lan – to enhance dialogue between donors, policy makers and researchers.  Pending funding, the project will be scaled up under Dr. Lan’s direction by expanding into other communities in Vietnam for which deforestation and climate threats pose ongoing challenges.   The project has benefitted immensely from Dr. Lan’s steadfast leadership, his capacity to meet unanticipated challenges to project implementation, and deep commitment to alleviating economic and social inequities in Ban Nhop.  The realization of the ICS project weds environmental stewardship to social justice as it seeks to empower the community while protecting the vital Son La National Forest area.


The Ban Nhop project is a concrete example of the way in which PISA creates real world opportunities for program delegates to test what they have learned during PISA’s Leadership Institute on Global Climate Change.  The outcome this intensive, cutting-edge curriculum on climate change combined with the opportunity to develop practical, solution-oriented projects will help inform climate policy dialogue in Southeast Asia.  PISA alumni maintain contact with each other across government agencies, citizens’ associations and research units, thus serving as an informal body for information sharing, policy dialogue, and mentoring.

Reported by: Jon Ehrenfeld, Senior Writer

Edited by: Suzanne Kelly-Lyall, Deputy Director, PISA

PISA Interview with Dr. Doan Duc Lan, Team Leader, Ban Nhop Cook Stove Project, Son La Province, Vietnam

1. Could you provide a brief summary of the Ban Nhop project to date, including your goals and how you imagined the project would run?


Ban Nhop (Son La Province, Thuan Chau District, Chieng Bom Commune) now has 84 households of Thai people. They live in an area that’s close to the Copia Nature Reserve. It is obvious that exploitation of natural forest for wood, farming, land and firewood is a danger for the Nature Reserve. The goal of our project is to prevent local people from cutting down trees inside natural forest by development of improved cookstove [ICS] models.

We successfully completed a forest survey, a GIS map of the forest situation, sociology assessment and firewood consumption survey in Ban Nhop.

The Improved Cookstove

We successfully introduced the following ICS models: brick (for livestock food cooking), iron, ceramic and concrete. The masons of Ban Nhop have been trained to build brick and concrete ICS. Up to the present, the householders in Ban Nhop have built 60 brick, 4 concrete, 30 iron and 7 ceramic ones. In the future, we’re going to provide 42 households with concrete ICS.

The local people said that improved cookstoves help them to save time and firewood. Despite the above mentioned success, we are faced with some problems: ICS can get some cracks, and the concrete tolerance is not durable in conditions of high heat and long use.

2. Can you describe why you chose to focus on the cookstoves and what the larger impacts will be of introducing the ICS?

In the rural mountainous areas of Northwest Vietnam, energy for cooking and heating mainly comes from forest firewood and burning crop residues. In Ban Nhop, every householder consumes 8.4 kilograms of firewood per a day on average and 20 kilogram maximum (for householders owning livestock). It means that firewood exploitation can badly affect natural forests, especially in the context of current rapid population growth.  According to the sociology survey conducted in March 2010, there were 75 householders, but now there are 84.

Using ICS contributes to reduction of firewood consumption, so it helps protect natural forests and reduces greenhouse gases (GHG). Because of ICS’s applicability, simple technique and low cost, there’s no doubt that ICS is a very good solution for the local people.

3. Suzanne and Linda were particularly interested in the impacts a project of this sort could have on empowering local girls and women. Could you describe that, and discuss the importance of women to projects of this sort?

Traditionally, collection of firewood and food cooking are mainly done by local girls and women. Using the ICS can help them to save time, labor and reduce lung-related diseases caused by dust and smoke. We need to research more deeply to get exact conclusion about the degree of these diseases.
4. What does local resilience mean to you, within the context of climate change? How does a project like this create it? Does this fall under the category of adaptation to climate change?


Increasing temperature creates long hot weather, lack of water for domestic use and farming, and water for hydro-power production. It is that hydro-power reduction that seriously affects rural, urban areas and industrial zones.That’s why forest protection, especially watershed forests in the Northwest of Vietnam, is essentially important. Our project provides protection to 323 hectares of watershed forest in Ban Nhop. I strongly believe that our project falls under the category of response to climate change.

5. This is a local project, supported by a comparatively small grant from a small organization – what does this say about the future of climate change research and adaptation, specifically that of micro-funding?



Although our project is small in scale, it provides connection among local authorities, local people and scientists to find out a solution to energy consumption issue in mountainous area and forest protection in the context of climate change. Our project is building and improving the capacity of community and stakeholders. In the context of micro-funding, I suppose that future research should focus on sustainable livelihoods and capacity building of local partners for the purpose of helping them find out the solutions best applicable to their local condition.

6. How do you plan to scale this project? What lessons does the ICS program have for people interested in local projects that they can scale up?


At first, we need to evaluate the project again to get experiences in order to perfect the ICS production technique. Then, we can continue conducting our project in minority groups living near other natural forests such as H Mong, Dao or Sing Mun communes….

When conducting local projects, it is necessary to study and take all aspects into consideration such as natural condition, sociology, economy, human resources for designing reasonable activities. The participation of the community to survey, project conducting process, contribution of labor and finance will decide the sustainability of the project.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: