Migingo is a tiny island in the midst of Lake Victoria, positioned near the border between Kenya and Uganda.
With an area of merely one acre, Migingo stands as one of the tiniest landmasses on Earth.
Despite its diminutive size, it is densely populated, housing hundreds of residents who have ingeniously adapted to the island’s rocky terrain.
Meanwhile, the island’s residents rely heavily on fishing as their primary livelihood.
It is usually home to several hundred people, with population figures varying over time.
This unique geographical location and the island’s distinctive landscape make Migingo a captivating and extraordinary place within Lake Victoria.
Geographical Background of Migingo Island
Migingo, also known as “Fisherman’s Island,” is located in Africa’s largest freshwater lake.
The island measures a mere 2,000 square meters, making it one of the most densely populated places on Earth.
The natural landscape of Migingo is characterized by a rugged and rocky coastline, with shanty structures clustered closely together.
Challenges of Life in Dense Residential Areas
Migingo’s most distinguishing feature is its size and population density.
The island is primarily made up of shanty structures, including homes, bars, and small businesses, all perched on rocky terrain.
It lacks basic infrastructure such as running water, electricity, and proper sanitation facilities, but the people who call Migingo home have created a self-sustaining community that relies on fishing as their primary livelihood.
The island’s remote location and shared ownership also create complex issues related to governance, resource management, and security.
Nevertheless, Migingo offers opportunities for sustainable development, improved living conditions, and increased cooperation between Kenya and Uganda.
Livelihood as Fishermen
The economic significance of Migingo Island is undeniable.
The island serves as a critical fishing hub where fishermen catch tilapia, Nile perch, and other fish species. Then, the fish are sold to markets in Kenya, Uganda, and beyond.
The fishing industry sustains islanders and supports regional families, playing a crucial role in food security and economic growth.
Therefore, Migingo is known as the main source of fish for the Kenyan people.
The Initial Settlement of Fisherman’s Island
The history of Migingo Island is as intriguing as its size.
Meanwhile, generations of fishermen inhabited the island, sparking a Kenya-Uganda dispute in the early 2000s.
Both nations claimed ownership of the island due to its strategic location and its importance as a fishing hotspot.
Tensions escalated, and the dispute led to a military standoff in 2009.
Eventually, a peaceful resolution was reached, and a co-ownership agreement was established.
Under this agreement, Kenyan and Ugandan fishermen cooperated on the island, sharing surrounding water resources.