RELIANCE on bullocks and manpower to cart water from nearby rivers and creeks has finally ended for residents of Urata settlement in Bulileka outside Labasa Town following the installation of water tanks and a borehole in the area.
With the assistance of the Rotary Pacific Water for Life Foundation, New Zealand Aid and the Ministry of Health, residents had a reason to celebrate in style yesterday with their thumbs up at the official opening of the water project.
The villagers have for the past 40 years depended on creeks and wells and sometimes resorted to rain water for bathing, cooking and drinking.
Resident Suresh Chandra said living without such a basic necessity was difficult. "Our children miss school because of lack of water but now, it's indeed a relief for us. We thank the Foundation, NZAID and the ministry for having the insight to help us improve our living standard. This is like a light in the darkness," said Mr Chandra.
Another thankful resident Kushma Wati said the project was like waiting for a drop of rain in a long drought.
New Zealand trade commissioner Peter Lund said they spent about $30,000 to complete the project.
He advised the residents to use water wisely and look after their water tanks so it would last long.
"Access to safe drinking water and sustainable waste water management will have a broader impact in terms of a healthier population and also promote income generation and sustainability," Mr Lund said.
"Such community-centred approaches will ensure water interventions meet the specific needs of each community," he said.
He urged communities that benefitted from the projects to take ownership of it.
"The New Zealand government is pleased to support the initiative of the foundation in an effort to promote healthy rural populations with sustainable livelihoods," Mr Lund said.
Foundation chairman Aslam Khan said 32 households would benefit from the project and would have access to clean and safe drinking water.
Divisional Health Inspector Rakesh Kumar said the initiation of the project came after cases of typhoid were reported from the area over the past years.