INTERNATIONAL Water Day is held annually on March 22 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of water and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
Minister for Public Utilities Captain Timoci Natuva made the comments in his address at the International Water Day celebration in Nausori yesterday.
Cpt Natuva said the government, organisations, communities and individuals had to actively engage in addressing the challenges of water management so that people could achieve the action plan for the past years.
"While great progress has been made over the years, there are still around 780 million people around the world who lack access to clean drinking water and nearly 3.4 million people die every year from water related diseases," Col. Natuva said.
"Water is an essential element for every human being, for personal consumption and cooking, growing crops and maintaining livestock, personal hygiene and washing things," he said.
He said access to water looked different in every country.
"It could mean pipes into homes, or a well that is 30 minutes away from home. But no matter the standards set by a country, access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation are crucial human rights," Cpt Natuva said.
Government officials, NGO representatives, Water Authority of Fiji and schools from around Nausori were part of the celebration at Syria Park.
On displays at the celebration were information on water management and water testing equipment that students can learn from.