Gaming tool promotes co-designing safer communities

  • 06 Sep 2023 | by Linda Dlamini | GIZ

Gaming tool promotes co-designing safer communities – Blog

INDAWO is a gamified learning tool that promotes the co-designing process towards safer communities.

A prototype of the tool was first piloted in 2019 as a part of a knowledge management project within the German Development Cooperation (GIZ). Initially piloted in a room of practitioners and government officials, the game was then further developed as a tool for area-based violence prevention in South Africa. The game is a partnership product of the GIZ-Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention Programme (GIZ-VCP) through consultation sessions, testing, development, and workshops with key stakeholders and field experts. The copyright belongs to GIZ, Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading (VPUU), the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (DCoG), the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSPS), and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA); with the development of the gaming tool itself being a notable example of the co-design and collaboration the game aims to underscore.

Objectives and Learning Outcomes:

INDAWO gamified learning tool is designed with the purpose of immersive learning about planning an integrated area-based approach to violence prevention interventions in South Africa. Players employ the roles of different stakeholders, with varying priorities, tasked with planning an area- based approach to violence prevention in the simulated informal settlement of INDAWO. In this practice of violence prevention, the game, as a learning tool, has the following learning objectives:


  • The value and process of planning and implementing area-based approaches that speak to the relevant social, spatial, institutional complexities of a given spatial context.
  • How to incorporate evidence-based approaches into interventions through policy, with reference made to the White Paper on Safety and Security (WPSS), and its operational plan, the Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy (ICVPS); however, the concept can further be applied to the evaluation of other resources.
  • The techniques of co-design and integration of different government departments, service providers, key stakeholders, and community members in the decision-making process, with a common goal.
  • Components of planning interventions such as the social, infrastructure, processes, and budgets that impact feasibility and sustainability. 
  • How and why, there is a need to develop indicators which will allow for monitoring and evaluation of the identified targets, as well as allow for more strategic approaches.
  • The crucial undertaking of the exercise of monitoring and evaluation to measure the intended and unintended impact of the interventions contra to indicators and aims.
  • Make evident the need to continuously practice knowledge management from the early stages of the planning process as an opportunity of learning and contributor to monitoring and evaluation.

Who the Tool is for:

Initially targeting officials, politicians, and practitioners of violence prevention initiatives, the room for learning in this tool revealed its broader applicability. This motivated the roll-out of INDAWO to municipalities and multi-stakeholder groups, through trainings and conferences, to universities for curricula inclusion, and possibly to civil society organizations. As it stands, the actors that have been trained in the game include national and provincial SALGA staff, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality through the SPRINT measure, the City of Johannesburg and City Transformation and Public Safety offices, and Urban Safety Reference Group (USRG) member cities. Municipalities who participated in the pilot LGSETA accredited training on community safety planning. Through conferences such as the GIZ GGA Conference and the UCLG Africities Conference various academia and municipal staff across Kenya and South Africa were introduced to the game. Finally, with the intention of integrating INDAWO into university curriculum as a part of the learning experience, INDAWO was rolled-out into the University of the Witwatersrand curriculum for the Urban and Regional Planning students in 2nd year for the Urban Design course and 3rd years for the politics and housing course.

Structure of the Tool:

Indawo How-To:

The immersion into a simulated environment, that takes place as players learn and play the INDAWO game, provides a different kind of learning experience, in which players learn how to apply key concepts, priorities, and interventions in an attempt to address safety challenges that are relevant to the context of South Africa.

  1. The facilitator of the game narrates and guides the unfolding events without practical involvement, this level of decision-making is left to the players to explore according to their capacities and the priorities outlines in their role cards.
  2. With some of the players having budgets and the others not, as well as each priority of the stakeholder having overlapping factors to other roles, they do differ in other avenues. Once the contextual complexities and realities of Indawo are put forth, the players bring strategic input on budget and interventions and address the challenges facing the community.
  3. The players have choices between social interventions and infrastructure interventions that ought to be supported by different processes in order to be feasibility and sustainable to the desired extent .
  4. The players also go through the process of budget cuts, progress reports, emergency crisis, monitoring and evaluation of their progress and interventions.
  5. The game ends with a debrief, often exposing the pressures, power dynamics, time limits, indecision, lack of strategic thinking, and other learnings, exposed areas, and challenges the group faced.



In the long-term, INDAWO belongs to those who can draw out the learning outcomes and apply them in their work. To remember that the consequences of ill-planned and implemented interventions impact not only the quality of institutional structures and relationships, but the very community that ought to be the beneficiaries of such interventions. INDAWO has the objective of putting in the forefront the value and methods of imploring integrated and collaborative approaches to short and long-term area-based approaches to safety and violence prevention, with the aim of being a tool used effectively by practitioners and other stakeholders in the relevant spaces.

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