Fiji: Families rejoice after Water Project Commissioning

More than 14 families in Simililaya, Sigatoka are all praising Government and the Multi-Ethnic Affairs Department for assisting them drill a borehole and construct a new water tank.

The Multi-Ethnic Affairs director Mr Sushil Sudhakar reiterated to community members the need to work in unity so this project could benefit them and the generations to come.

"Our Government has always been committed to providing better services to the people in terms of proper water supply, better health services and assisting people in the education sector," Mr Sudhakar said when commissioning the water project yesterday.

"Providing clean and safe drinking water to needy communities is on the priority list of the Government and the MEA Department is working to ensure that these communities are assisted.

"Seven months ago, we came and saw the water problems faced by the people in Simililaya and we came forward to assist them. I hope the community will take good care of the project so that you can have long-term benefits from it."

The Simililaya water project was completed on a cost sharing basis with the department contributing $8700 while the community gave $600.

The advisory councilor of the area, Mr Abhay Chand Sharma said assistance from the MEA was a timely one and they were grateful to the department.

"When we didn't have the borehole, people used to depend on river and well water, which was not safe. We had a borehole before but it was badly damaged in the floods early last year. Our only water source was gone for good and people faced a lot of difficulties after that," Mr Sharma said.

"However, our prayers were answered when we raised our concern in the District Advisory Council meeting earlier this year and within six months the project was completed. More than 14 families are receiving water from this borehole and we have also appointed a Water Project Committee that looks after the borehole. Each family pays about $10 a month for electricity cost," Mr Sharma said.

Mr Sharma, who also looks after Nabitu, Lokia, Vilalevu, Mid Valley Constituency, and Nabaka said they were also grateful to the Multi-Ethnic Affairs Department for assisting with income generating projects in the area.

"About two months ago, MEA helped seven villagers in Nevula (Loma) venture into bee-farming. These farmers haven't done any harvest yet but they have got local buyers who will buy from them," Mr Sharma said,

From next year Mr Sharma will ask for assistance from Government to help people in his area start up poultry, goat, prawn and tilapia farming.

"This is just a way of increasing income of the farmers as most of these vegetable farmers do not have a permanent market for their produce and they face a lot of difficulties. This will be a sustainable source of income for them," he said.

Mr Sharma also said that while the Government was doing its part in helping the communities, people should also do their bit and work hard.

"There's no good in relying on Government handouts only. People should think of ideas to help themselves. We know the Government is there to assist but the initiative should come from the people themselves," the councilor added.

Similaya is about 40 minutes drive from Sigatoka Town.