Thirteen years ago, the eight Jola villages in Mangagoulack, in Senegal’s Casamance region, were indebted and hungry, with overfishing, rising saltwater levels and rampant deforestation of mangroves contributing to a downward spiral.In 2006, the community formed an association and began work toward drawing up a code of conduct based on traditional fishing and land-management techniques. The group, now known as the Kawawana ICCA, operates through consensual decision-making and has pledged to remain independent from the government and NGOs.By 2012, the river was full of fish, oysters and other wildlife once again. Local people rejoiced at the renewed supply of food and income.Today, climate change, a dam, state indifference to poachers, and a youth exodus are putting their hard-won standard of living at risk. Kawawana has served as a model for other communities in the region, and now the villagers hope that working together will help them face down their problems and fortify their gains. This is the main story in Mongabay’s three-part profile of the Kawawana ICCA. Read the others: Watching the wildlife return: Q&A with a rural Senegalese river monitor Women’s work in Senegalese conservation includes exorcising demons MANGAGOULACK, Senegal — To feed their families, the residents of Mangagoulack, in Senegal’s Casamance region, don’t need to look much further than the winding river channels and well-kept fields behind their village. Fish, rice, vegetables, honey and mangoes provide Senegalese staples, in stark contrast to the food insecurity felt across so much of this West African nation, thanks to the villagers’ remarkable effort to revive their traditional methods of fishing, farming and forestry. Despite their successes, the eight villages behind the scheme say battles with climate change, state indifference to poachers, and a youth exodus are putting their hard-won standard of living at risk. Their initiative has served as a conservation model for other villages in the region, and now they hope cooperation within the movement they founded will help them face down their current problems and fortify their gains.