Lake Victoria Series: Why tiny island without amenities attracts hundreds

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Migingo

The tiny Migingo Island on Lake Victoria is less than a third of the size of a football pitch, yet hundreds of people live there.

The hundreds of people, mainly fishermen, are crammed onto the rocky island, living on top of each other, in often desperate conditions.  What’s more? Migingo is also the source of a dispute between Kenya and Uganda, as each country claims ownership of the Island.

It might seem bizarre for such a tiny piece of island to attract so much interest but in reality, it deserves every bit of it.

Those who live on the tiny island have very interest in what lies on it. It is what lies in the water that they are interested in.

While much of Lake Victoria is struggling with depleted fish stocks, the deep waters surrounding Migingo are still teeming with the lake’s equivalent of gold – Nile Perch.

Huge amounts of money circulate in this small island, and at times the fishermen run short of ways to spend their earnings.

The island is generally covered in a maze of corrugated iron shacks, separated by steep and narrow paths.

The island has very few amenities, and notably lacks a hospital or doctors. Medical services there are offered by a single pharmacist.

Still however, the inhabitants are comfortable with life on the island, at least as long as they earn their monies.

Migingo’s political future is uncertain, with both Kenya and Uganda insisting that it belongs to them. The two countries have deployed their police force there. As long as there’s fish however, the inhabitants are here to stay.

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