TerriStories®: a participatory management game

TerriStories® is a scientific method that solves collective issues through a game.
TerriStories: a board game based on CIRAD research © Bioviva
TerriStories: a board game based on CIRAD research © Bioviva

TerriStories: a board game based on CIRAD research © Bioviva

While participatory approaches are seen as vital for involving local people in managing resources and territories, they often have a limited long-term impact. This is what prompted CIRAD to develop the TerriStories® method, based on a board game, in Senegal. The aim was to simulate environmental, economic and social uncertainties in order to encourage participants to build operational management rules in line with their own collective and individual requirements.

TerriStories® has proved its merits in a range of situations (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Laos and Cambodia) and for various tasks: drafting rules for collectively managing natural resources, land tenure, territories and value chains, preventing and resolving conflict, and coordinating stakeholders. The board is designed to enable complex scenario simulations, based on simple modelling concepts that anyone can master.  Improvisation by the participants and the indiscriminate compilation of the solutions they come up with play a vital part. Since the participants control operations, they are more likely to become actively involved.

Fostering ongoing partnerships between stakeholders in a given territory

To transfer the method to as many players as possible, CIRAD called upon Insuco BF, an independent design office specializing in social science and engineering. Through that partnership, TerriStories® is now available to agroindustrial firms, mining firms, NGOs and other institutions keen to set up frameworks for consultation between the various stakeholders involved in their field projects. Insuco BF makes the method and the board available to its clients via a pool of facilitators trained and accredited by CIRAD. The final aim is to foster ongoing partnerships between stakeholders in a given territory, to build sustainability.


In relation to what we do in Burkina Faso, our collaboration with CIRAD made it possible to adapt TerriStories® to the project’s topic of forestry, in line with the scope of its intervention (30 municipalities). This allowed us to optimize the time spent on territorial diagnoses, defining the issues, and plan activities. On that basis, we worked with the project to establish local development plans encompassing the issue of forest preservation and carbon capture. The second advantage of TerriStories® in terms of our work is that it builds local dialogue based on stakeholders’ knowledge and allows them to express themselves and take on board other people’s points of view. In short, it comes down to debating the policies required to address the issues they face.

Peter Hochet
Africa Executive Director, Insuco


From scientific tool to game

At the request of communities or firms, Bioviva can also adapt the TerriStories® board to topical issues (eg water or energy), to foster participatory approaches within territories. Like the previous collaboration between Bioviva and Enercoop, this type of application has great potential.


The TerriStories® project enabled Bioviva to work closely with researchers from CIRAD over several years. Their field experience was precious to us in developing the game. The main challenge was to transform complex negotiating mechanisms into game rules that the public could easily master. We also worked hard to reflect the wide variety of negotiating situations on the ground. After a number of meetings with CIRAD, it became obvious that the core of the TerriStories® game had to be discussion, to apply the most appropriate individual and group choices in the collective interest.

Michaël Rambeau
Development Manager, Bioviva