A Map of the Kenya / Uganda Border Dispute Over Migingo Island

Kenya-Uganda, Migingo Island Map.png

Disputed Perch

This map series originated from an interest in border disputes and this map was one of the first I made. Although the border itself is not strange, the dispute was. In 2008 Uganda and Kenya began arguing over who owns Migingo Island, the small island, barely visible on the map. The dispute triggered a joint survey by the two countries in 2009 that resolved it once and for all. As far as I can tell, the dispute boiled down to whether the island is East or West of the western tip of Pyramid Island. Pyramid Island is referenced in the constitutions of both countries. From the western shore of Pyramid Island, the border line continues North to another island. If the shores of Migingo Island were West of that line then the island would be in Uganda, otherwise, they would be in Kenya.

On Google Maps, there never appeared to be anything approaching a clear dispute. The resolved claims mean that the island is in Kenya but the water just West of the island is in Uganda. This is ironic because the real source of the dispute was over fishing rights for the dwindling Nile Perch present around the island. Those lie in Ugandan waters.

The island was uninhabited until at least 1991 when two Kenyan fisherman say they set up residence. Uganda says that a Ugandan fisherman started living on the island in 2004 and had found the island abandoned. The island is about half the size of a football field and barely above water. It may have even been below water in previous years when the waters of Lake Victoria were higher. It is amazing to see the island itself because it is basically a large rock with a bunch of tin shacks that house the islands 1000 or so residents. There is almost no remaining open space on the island.

Sources: WikipediaGoogle Maps