THE days of each household bringing a bucket of water each to village functions is over for villagers of Ligau on Kia Island in Macuata.
On Saturday, the villagers celebrated the opening of their very own desalination plant that turns seawater into drinking water.
Commissioned by the permanent secretary for Ministry of Foreign Affairs Amena Yauvoli, the village elders have labelled the Japanese-donated machine a blessing.
Village headman Akuila Tutora said for more than five decades, villagers of Kia have struggled to find proper drinking water.
"We are blessed here at Ligau Village that the government and the Water Authority of Fiji decided to install the machine in our area because of the school and it will also help us organise our village function more confidently," Mr Tutora said.
"In the past years, if we have a village function here in Ligau, every family will have to bring a bucket of water each for the function.
"If the function involves the whole island, then the families from the three villages of Ligau, Daku and Yaro will have to come with their supply of water."
Mr Tutora said such experiences were a challenge for the villagers.
"It's not easy but we have to bring the water to the function because the children will need it for drinking and our women for cooking and for the grog during traditional ceremony.
"We have pools and springs of water in the villages but it is only used for bathing and washing clothes.
"The villagers of Kia depend on the rain for drinking water if our water springs dry up during dry weather."
The desalination plant was donated by the Japanese Government at the cost of about $3million.
Ligau Village has two plants installed because of the shortage of drinking water faced on the island.