Fighting FASD.

Impact Area:

Quality Early Learning Programmes

Year of Investment and Stage:

2014 | Early Proof of Concept

Current Stage

Early Proof of Concept

Investment Amount:

>R500 000

Financial Instrument:


Have we reinvested:



Closed, Active

This digital game uses playful learning techniques to help children with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) form new neural pathways, helping them overcome some of their learning challenges.

The Problem

FASD is the umbrella term for the lifelong physical and/or developmental impairments that can result from prenatal alcohol exposure. Children born with FASD suffer from growth deficits, birth defects, and neurological damage. At school, they often struggle with attention, memory, and executive functioning; often falling far behind their peers.

South Africa has the highest reported prevalence of FASD in the world, which is more than 14 times the global average. While nothing can undo the damage caused in the womb, the plasticity of the developing brain means there is hope. Games using playful learning techniques are an impactful way of helping these vulnerable children.

The Innovation

Fighting FASD is an open-source computer game designed for children with FASD. It engages them in fun-filled activities that stimulate the brain’s ability to form new neural pathways.
Children in rural areas are hardest hit by FASD, and Fighting FASD was developed with these children in mind. Using a range of image matching activities, the game exercises the cognitive functions of attention and working memory.

Initial piloting of the game, funded by Innovation Edge, was done on a sample of 11 children in Mfuleni, Western Cape in March 2016. Based on the pilot’s outcomes, The Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) leveraged more than R1 million in funding from AWARE and the Partnership for Alcohol and AIDS Intervention Research to continue testing the prototype. A new and improved version of the game has since been released.

Why we Invested

The idea of using a computer game as a form of remediation is not unique to this initiative. It has shown success internationally, in the form of Caribbean Quest – a computer game also aimed at improving cognitive function in children with FASD. We supported the vision of the investee to build on what exists to create a product that is relevant and accessible in the South African context. Fighting FASD is low-cost, widely accessible and does not need a professional to administer it.

The Project Team

The Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) is the leading source of research and information on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in South Africa.