Villagers of remote Reef Islands in Temotu Province could not hide their joy when they took delivery of three water supply projects last week.
This effectively brought to an end years of walking long distances to fetch drinking water from nearby wells.
The three water supply projects were jointly funded by the Government of Taiwan and the national government at a cost of more than $1million.
Taiwan provided $537,800, the government $505,223.
The water supply projects were built in three separate locations – Laro, Nyimoa, and Tanga – that are central to serve the needs of nearby communities.
Water is pumped from underground into three big tanks and distributed through pipes right into the villages.
Now the villagers get their drinking water by just turning on the taps outside their houses.
“This is a great day for us,” one village woman told the Sunday Star.
Temotu Pele MP Dudley Kopu was a satisfied man.
“Clean and reliable water supply is what the people in Reef Islands need,” Kopu, who is also Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, told the Sunday Star during the commissioning of the projects.
“They’ve been denied that over the years,” he added.
“This is why when they gave me the mandate in the 2014 elections, I made it my business to build water supply for my people.”
Kopu said access to clean water is not only basic human need, but is vital to sustain livelihoods.
“Our daily lives revolved around water.
“From the moment we wake up to the end of responsibility each day, we do many things in which water plays a crucial role such as drinking, washing, bathing.
“In fact offers us the comfort we need to live a hygienic life, wash our clothes and clean our homes,” Kopu said.
“Human survival is dependent on water, yet our poor people in the village are often denied this basic human necessity,” the minister added.
Kopu paid tribute to women and girls of Temotu Pele constituency who were often burdened with the task of fetching water for the home every day.
He said over the years, women and girls in the constituency have to travel far daily to collect water from nearby wells for their families’ use.
“This should be your joyous day of your life. This is for you to enjoy and thank you girls for your hard work in the past,” he said.
“Often the girls are blamed for water at home.
“Rightly or wrong that has been the tradition at our homes in the Reefs because the parents are usually doing other household needs and the girls are tasked to fetch water.
“I say this to highlight the important role played by the girls in our homes.
“We must acknowledge the girls and our women for their help to our homes.
“As your MP, let me acknowledge the effort of men and women, boys and girls of Laro, Nyimoa and Tanga for your encouragement and cooperation towards the project.
“I am overwhelmed by your support.”
Kopu also urged the communities to take good care for the water supply projects.
“These facilities are very important for all of you so I want you to look after them carefully.
“They cost a lot of money so you have to look after them in order to last you for a long time.”
The MP said in the past, people have to scoop water from 24-metre deep wells to get their water.
“As you know the media picks up any news from communities any time and in this regards unpleasant happenings are faster to travel.
“The donors and the government will not provide further water supplies if we do not take care of these facilities.
“I pray that we shall behave justly towards these facilities.”
Women, men, and children of the communities where the three projects were established celebrated their new water supply during the course of last week.
“This is first of its kind and we are so glad to collect water at our door steps now,” one excited woman said.
They thanked their MP for sourcing the funds and pushing for the implementation of the water supply project.
By LESLEY SANGA