When I would go on vacation as a young boy, we would often go to this one island near us that had no way of getting to it aside from ferry boats.
Now, it was set up just like a small town would be with the exception of no cars. That never fascinated me.
What really fascinated me were the people who lived on the much smaller islands nearby that people lived on. You had full size houses just like in any other place in the country only about fifty of sixty people would live on them. I actually got to stay the night on one of them through a friend of the family and he said that the great thing about it was the idea that you didn’t have to worry about locking your doors at night.
I look at these places in pictures and think to myself you have to be a special kind of person to live like that. Even though this looks like a pile of trash floating in the ocean, it’s actually much much more than that. This is Migingo, a tiny rock island. It is less than half an acre or about half the size of a football field.
Although tiny in size, the island is home to 131 people (according to 2009 census) living in crammed huts made of corrugated sheets and wood. The reason why is that the fishing is so good there.
This is the tiny island of Migingo where 131 fisherman live.
The rich stock of Nile Perch in the waters around Migingo Island has lead to territorial dispute between the two countries – Uganda and Kenya, both of which lay claim to the island.
Trouble started on the island when pirates first heard that fishermen were making $300 a day, which was approximately three or four times what many people in East Africa earn in an entire month on dry land, they flocked to the island and stole fish, cash and engines.
More than 100 boats bring in their catch every morning to this little island for weighing, then they sell it to buyers. After fish processing firms buy what they need, the fish is transported to the Kenyan mainland.
Interestingly, there is a much larger island called Usingo just 200 meters to the east of Migingo Island that remains uninhabited.
Two fisherman arrived first back in 1991.
It’s in the middle of Lake Victoria and it’s packed.
Even though no one technically owns it, people have made it their home.
Entry permits and taxes were introduced on fishermen that hoped to cash in on the newly discovered fishing grounds.