The Problem:

Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) are microfinance organizations that operate at the village level. Researchers at BRACED needed a research instrument to help measure the role that VSLAs have in resilience-building for agro-pastoral subsistence communities. Specifically, researchers needed to know if VSLAs helped communities become more resilient to various shocks (e.g. long droughts or the inability to work because of an injury).


Shock is board game and impact evaluation instrument that is easily played in rural areas. The game is semi-cooperative, and simulates a farming community that sustains various shocks over a period of several years. Players can choose from adaptive strategies. How they play the game and prepare for shocks demonstrates their resilience.


The game was deployed successfully in 2016 in Niger and in 2017 in Ethiopia. The accompanying study showed that VSLAs reinforce and strengthen existing informal support networks, empower female members, and promote sustainable agricultural practices. The findings will be used to refine and guide the deployment of future microfinancing groups in the region.

Additional Resources:

BRACED Report: Implementing innovative methodologies to measure resilience in Niger

ODI Report: How Self Help Groups Strengthen Resilience