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Photo: Esther Harder

From: Sharing ideas – Footsteps 75

Footsteps readers share ideas related to their work

This game can help people to understand the special efforts needed to ensure that development activities really benefit the marginalised or poorest people within a community. It can be used with development workers, local government or NGO project staff, or village development committees.

Materials required

Count participants before the game and arrange that 10% will get red, 20% get green and 70% get blue. It is important that the colours are assigned randomly – for example, by participants picking coloured beads from a bag.


Explain that you are a development worker bringing resources for three projects to help them ‘win’ the prize which represents success. The participants represent local farmers. Each person takes a coloured item at random and lines up along the centre (seventh) line facing towards the prize at line 13.

When everyone is ready, read the descriptions for each colour. You should adapt the game for your context by adding local details to the descriptions.

In this way, participants have been randomly assigned different social and economic statuses within the community. Now you are ready to play the game.

In response to each of the situations presented, the participants will either take steps forward or back, depending on which colour they are. A step forward represents increased economic stability and wellbeing. A step backward represents further economic hardship and inequality. This activity helps the participants to gain a deeper understanding of how development projects can impact different groups within a community.

The game

Describe each project and then tell each group where to move and why.

PROJECT 1 Farmer training and seed distribution

A training for farmers is offered. Improved quality seeds will be distributed to all participants.

PROJECT 2 Community drinking water system

You hold a community meeting to discuss a new water system. You will donate the pipes if community members donate the labour. Everyone attends the meeting.

PROJECT 3 Literacy classes

A literacy class is starting in your village. Emphasise that this is especially to help the Blues.

The end of the game

The Reds have now taken six steps forward and should be able to reach the prize.

The most important part of the game is the discussion at the end. Begin asking these questions while the participants are still standing in place.

Then invite people to sit down and talk about these issues. Discuss who the Reds, Greens and Blues might be in your community. The game should help to show why development projects often need to focus on poor and marginalised people (the Blues). It is not because the Reds and Greens are less valued or even less deserving – they are also good people and hard workers. Jesus taught us to care for poor people because they deserve justice. Because of social inequalities, Blues need special attention to ensure that they are able to take equal advantage of opportunities.

To encourage people, finish by sharing local success stories that show how you can work with Blues without excluding Reds and Greens.

Karen L Stoufer , Christian Veterinary Mission.


Success story from Nepal

A women’s group was going to do a livestock project. The Reds and Greens wanted to raise goats and the Blues wanted to raise pigs. We helped them to set up a project where the pigs arrived first and when that was successfully running, then the goats came. The women with more resources (Red and Green) helped the Blues because it was in their interest – everyone’s success was linked.

It is important to consider how the project impacts all sections of the community during the project design stage. Think of ways to encourage Blues to participate. 

Photo: Mike Webb, Tearfund

Photo: Mike Webb, Tearfund

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