Blue Solution | Kawawana indigenous community conserved area in Senegal: Good life recovered through conservation

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Editor’s note: The Blue Solutions initiative supports the exchange of successful approaches to marine and coastal conservation and development, sharing what worked where and why. Each case is authored by a practitioner and published on the Marine and Coastal Solutions portal of the PANORAMA web platform. MPA News is drawing from these cases.

In the rural municipality of Mangagoulack in southern Senegal, uncontrolled fishing and other ecosystem exploitation depleted the area’s biodiversity and the livelihoods that depended on it. By the year 2000, food quality and food security were low for Mangagoulack’s eight villages. Governance by national and regional officials was inadequate.

How the challenges were addressed

With not a cent of outside support, local fishermen from the municipality set up a system to govern, manage, and provide surveillance for their own conserved area, called Kawawana. The word kawawana means “our local heritage to be preserved by us all.” It is an indigenous and community conserved area (ICCA) in an estuarine territory of Mangagoulack.

The site’s governance builds on traditional governance and management rules, which have been revived and agreed upon by the municipal and regional governments. It features a three-zone, multiple-use management plan.

Management has also included restoration of traditional anti-salt dikes to reclaim arable coastal land for rice cultivation.

Local call-in radio programs foster dialogue among all who need to know and respect the ICCA’s rules.

Evidence of success

Monitoring of Kawawana since designation has shown strong recovery in biodiversity and species abundance including fish, dolphins, crocodiles, and birds. The “good life” is back in the villages: fish are available in good quality and quantity to households at an affordable price.

The management plan has fostered local food sovereignty and is credited with playing a role in reversing migration to cities outside the municipality. Rice cultivation has increased. The community has learned sophisticated monitoring methods and regularly monitors fishery and socio-economic results.

Elsewhere in Senegal, six more ICCAs are currently being planned and are seeking legal recognition, following the example of Kawawana.

Lessons learned

  • The experience of putting Kawawana into operation has led to increased awareness of fishing communities about harmful practices and opportunities to build on cultural heritage to achieve sustainable development.
  • There can be no effective and sustainable community conservation without functioning institutions and decision-making bodies.
  • Radio is a powerful tool for reaching all segments of the population to make them understand and take an interest in resource management.

For more information on this case, please visit the PANORAMA web platform.