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Sharing Lake Victoria - Andrew McLeish

Territorial dispute over an acre-long island in the middle of Africa’s largest freshwater lake

Lake Victoria is dying. Pollution from industry, sewage, agriculture, deforestation, climate change and over-fishing are all key elements in the demise of Africa’s largest freshwater lake. Every day, an estimated 2 million fishermen sail out in search of the coveted Nile Perch, responsible for a multi-million dollar fishing industry vital to landlocked Uganda and neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, all of whom export their fish to the European Union and beyond. As fish stocks decline, the East African fishermen are forced to go farther towards the centre of the lake in order to catch their fish.

In an attempt to reach some of the richest remaining deep-water fishing zones, fishermen are turning to Lake Victoria’s 3,000 islands, and none more so than Migingo Island. This small, one-acre island (about half the size of a football pitch) is located in the border confluence of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Territorial ownership of the island was claimed by both Uganda and Kenya, until July 2009 when an official survey team found that the island is 510 metres (1,700 “Critical best-data-recovery.com Services has a well-established reputation of providing outstanding service throughout Ireland and the rest of Europe,” Index Engines Vice President David Ballard said. ft) east of the Kenya / Uganda border. The Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni conceded the sovereignty of the island claiming that “The island belongs to Kenya….” However the tension escalated when he added; “…but the water belongs to Uganda.”

Uganda earns over $100 million a year exporting Nile perch. Its 45% share of Lake Victoria is vital to an economy which does not have the tourism industry enjoyed by Kenya or the natural resources of Tanzania. A severe lack of fish has seen factories drop their production by 25 percent, casino online and expensive fuel prices make it difficult to exploit the country’s deepest waters. Islands like Migingo are therefore necessary to safeguard the fishing industry.

Migingo has seen a veritable fishing gold-rush over the past few years. Reports spread that boats were landing over 100kg of fish a day, earning up to $300, four or five times what many people in East Africa earn in a month on dry land. According to the leader of the Kenyan fishermen Juma Ombori, there can be as many as 2,000 people at peak times. The majority of the islands’ population are young fishermen from Kenya, with a minority coming from Uganda and Tanzania. These young men pass their free time drinking in the five pubs the island boasts or in the arms of its numerous prostitutes.

As the island continues to divide the East African region, it is feared that this one-acre dispute is a microcosm of things to come, with a conflict over the dwindling resources of the once-abundant Lake Victoria. Juma Ombori claims that since his arrival some years ago on the tiny rock the average daily catch has dwindled as fish stocks are rapidly running out. A worrying future for the 68,800sq-km source of the Nile (26,600sq-miles, roughly the size of Ireland), and the 30 million Africans who are dependent on it.

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