Fishermen packed in like sardines

Rising out of the waters of Lake Victoria like an iron-plated turtle, Migingo Island is a rounded rocky outcrop covered in metallic shacks.

Barely a quarter of a hectare in size, the island is densely populated by residents fishing mainly for Nile perch on the lake.

Those staying on Migingo are crammed into a hotchpotch of corrugated-iron homes, with little else other than a few bars, brothels and a tiny port.

Despite its tiny size, Migingo has, for more than a decade, been a source of tension between Uganda and Kenya, which have been unable to decide to whom it really belongs.

They were once pushed to the brink of what some said would have been Africa's "smallest war" over the island in 2009, when Kenya deployed security forces to Migingo in response to complaints from Kenyan fishermen that they were being shaken down by Ugandan officials in their own waters and chased from the island.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2018, with the headline 'Fishermen packed in like sardines'. Print Edition | Subscribe