Friday 23 September 2011

The Path to Development

the path to development
Introduction: This activity helps players understand how international economic relations between North and South cause hunger and exploitation in impoverished countries, also forcing people to leave their country of origin and how wealthy European countries contribute to the displacement of people by perpetuating the imbalance of North-South relations. There are clear links between the dominant unfair model of economic development and immigration and refugee movement.

Issues addressed:
  • North-South relations and the imbalance governing them.
  • The interdependence between people and countries in the North and the South.
  • Development models and their consequences.
  • Economic relations as one contributory factor in the development of racism and xenophobia.
  • Solidarity, equality, world history.

Aims of the activity:
  • To develop an understanding that the imbalance in North-South relations is one of the factors which forces people to seek better living conditions in other countries.
  • To understand the interdependence between countries and people.

Number of participants:
Minimum 4 people, maximum 40.

Two hours in total. 75 minutes for the game and 45 minutes for the debriefing and evaluation.

Preparation and material needed:
1.   Equipment needed for each team:

2.   Game board (a photocopy enlargement will do very well).

3.   Four round counters (made of cardboard, about 2 cm in diameter), one yellow and the three others of different colours e.g. brown, green and blue.

4.   One dice.

5.   Photocopy and cut up the sheet of action cards. If possible place them in a little box.

6.   Seventy dried beans, pieces of macaroni or similar to serve as tokens (to represent resources).

1.   Divide the participants into four teams. They can play as individuals, if the group is small.

2.   Share out the counters between the groups: put the counters in a hat and ask someone from each team to take one. This ensures that it is pure chance which team plays with which colour.

3.   Share out the beans. Give the team playing yellow seven beans and the teams playing with brown, green and blue tokens 21 beans each (this distribution corresponds roughly to the distribution of natural resources between the countries of the North and South).

4.   Ask one member of each team in turn to throw the dice to see who starts playing first.

5.   Read out the rules of the game

6.   Check that everyone knows what to do, then let the games begin.

Rules of the game:
Explain that there are games in which the rules are not the same for everybody. That is what happens in this game too. The advantages and disadvantages on the path to development are different for the different teams. This may seem unfair, but we have not invented the rules of this game, we copied them, as faithfully as possible, from reality. Chance determines who plays with which colour counter.

In reality, this is not determined by chance, but by historic and geographic factors, as well as by people and organisations with personal interests that set economic factors that set the obstacles and the possibilities that each country and people will meet on their way to development.

You play this game like an ordinary board game:
1.   Tell the teams to take turns at throwing the dice and then to move as many squares as the number on the dice.

2.   If you fall on an action square take the corresponding action card and follow the instructions.

3.   Explain that the instructions written in normal type font are the instructions for the team playing with yellow tokens and those written in italic are the instructions for the teams playing with the brown, green or blue tokens.

4.   The first time a team lands on an action square ask them to read out all the instructions on the card. Subsequently, they need only read out the instructions relevant to their team.

5.   Tell players they must always follow the instructions and move and/or pay up as directed.

6.   If a team has no beans because they have given away all they have, they must borrow from the team, which has the most, and as soon as possible pay back what they borrowed.

7.   The rules of the game may not be changed unless it is with the full agreement of all the groups playing or unless there is a special order to do so on one of the action cards.

Tips for the facilitator:
1.   When playing with groups, the game works best if there is a minimum of four people and a maximum of eight per group.

2.   On square 49, the group playing yellow may change the rules in any way they like. It is assumed that they will want to change the rules for their own advantage.­ They could make the other teams go back to the start, take all their beans, make the other teams miss the next 3 goes. If they decide to change the rules to make things fairer you should point out that politically this is a very difficult thing to do as they will have to convince the electorate. It will be a very unpopular policy and they will have to explain how they intend to implement it while avoiding great social unrest at home.

Debriefing and evaluation:
1.   At the end of the game ask each team to look back at the route they took, the squares they stopped on and what happened there.

2.   If there are any squares that no team landed on read out the action card to see what would have happened.

3.   Follow on with a discussion about how the players felt and what they learnt:

a) How did it feel to be 'yellow'? How did it feel to be "brown", "green" or "blue"?

b) Are there any similarities between this game and reality?

c) Do the problems and issues raised occur in reality?

d) Who does the "yellow counter represent? And the other ones?

e) Can we say that those represented by the yellow counter are only present in the North?

f) Are those represented by the other counters found only in the South?

g) Who benefits, both in the North and in the South, from the present world system?

h) Can we talk of a "dominant development model" which can serve as the best one for all situations, countries and peoples?

i) What are the characteristics, according to this game, of the present "dominant development model"? Is this a feasible "model" in the sense that it can suit in practice all men and women, all peoples on this planet? In the future, would a sustainable development model be possible? What might it be like?

j) What are the links between this situation and attitudes of racism and discrimination? Is it fair to say, for instance, that immigrants come to our countries to take our money and resources?

Suggestions for follow-up:
1.   Consider just how much you really know about the issues raised in this game. Do you find that it's hard to obtain accurate, independent information and that news reports often don't tell the whole story? How can you get better informed? Discuss.

2.   Make a list of things you can do to improve the situation at home e.g. participate in the development of local community projects, support small local businesses, boycott firms which behave unethically.

3.   Make a list of things you can do to help change the economic situation in the South e.g. campaigning for political change, talking to others to raise more people’s awareness... 

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