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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

The Ilemi Triangle



The Ilemi Triangle is a cartographic curiosity where South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia meet. To date, there has been no demarcation of this colonial border in East Africa, let alone any agreed definition, and it is often referred to as ‘a dispute area’. Despite the visible dispute there has been limited public explanation as to how this situation came about. Several factors in the Ilemi area could potentially give rise to a conflict involving Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia, such as oil exploration, cattle raiding or the shrinking of Lake Turkana.

In this context, Kenya and South Sudan recently organized a meeting of the Joint Technical Committee of the South Sudan–Kenya Border Commission, which will do the groundwork to establish where the two nations can agree the international boundary should be.

On 10 March 2020, the Rift Valley Forum will host a panel discussion on the history and the attributes of the Ilemi Triangle.


Philip Winter
RVI Fellow


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