Centre for Development Innovation

Tackling stunting due to malnutrition with a board game



The Centre for Development Innovation at Wageningen University and Research asked Salsaparilla to help them dispel a persistent myth in Indonesia. A large part of the population believes eating fish is bad for your health, especially during pregnancy. As other sources of protein aren’t as readily available, this results in malnutrition and even stunting in newborns. Salsaparilla traveled to Indonesia and used game based change to dispel this myth and tackle malnutrition.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries commissioned the project with the Centre for Development Innovation, who in turn placed their confidence in Salsaparilla.


The intention of the game is to disprove prevailing myths concerning food and nutrition. For many, the Indonesian diet is too limited. Parents are unaware of this fact, even though it can result in lifetime disability: children don’t grow properly, which has consequences for brain development. This results in widespread limitations when they reach adult age. To break out of this pattern, Salsaparilla designed a game. This game proved to be very successful. The Indonesian Ministries of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Health expressed great enthusiasm for the game and intend to initiate a large scale rollout to tackle malnutrition.

After testing out a variety of different formats, a board game proved itself as most effective. The target group is largely illiterate and thus finds more learning efficacy through visual stimuli and joint activities. Salsaparilla designed dice depicting a father, baby, house, fish, and fruit. If you roll a fish, you draw a card with a statement (myth or fact), which players must judge as true or false. Each card allows the game leader to explain the right answer definitively and in doing this disprove the myth.

Testing the game in Tegal Indonesia from Salsaparilla on Vimeo.


Improvement is already noticeable in the Indonesian population, also because of local information campaigns which are starting to show results. Thanks to years of international orientation and expertise in game based change, Salsaparilla managed to highlight and key into pivotal aspects of the project. Using game based interventions, Salsaparilla affects behavioral change. This can be done in a country’s population, but also definitely in a company’s organization.

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