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Ladies and gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

I’m very glad to be here with you in Natadradave Village where you have welcomed the life-changing benefits of clean drinking water.

I’ve opened several water projects throughout the country in recent weeks, and I’ve been very proud to do so, because I believe that access to clean water for our people is absolutely fundamental to our future development and for the prosperity of our people. And because of that commitment, we’ve opened new taps, just like this one, along with massive new water infrastructure projects all across Fiji over the past decade.

Under my leadership, we’ve brought the immeasurable benefits of clean drinking water to over 150,000 Fijians in rural communities. Because of that record, because of my Government’s leadership, tens of thousands of Fijians in rural pockets of Fiji now know that feeling of joy and security brought by seeing clean water run when they switch on the tap – that same feeling all of you know today. As your Prime Minster, that is what I’m focussed on. I’m not focussed on the mud-slinging we see from politicians in Fiji today. I’m not focussed on the personal attacks or the politicking. I’m certainly not focussed on dividing Fijians up along ethnic or religious lines. I’ve kept my focus on development from the very beginning, real development that is making real improvements in the lives of our people. 

That work is the sacred duty and responsibility of my Government, as set out by the Fijian Constitution, which mandates that we work to steadily realise universal access to clean drinking water for our people. That’s one of the many rights and protections enshrined in the Fijian Constitution, which I know we’re all looking forward to recognising and celebrating at our Constitution Day celebrations next month.

Access to clean water is more than a building block of development, it is the rock-solid foundation upon which a community can grow and prosper.

Every Fijian deserves to live with the security and happiness that only clean water can provide; water that can used for drinking, cooking, washing and keeping ourselves clean. No family should wake up wondering where the water they need will come from. No family should be forced to make a long, arduous journey in times of drought. And every family should know that clean water is nearby, whenever they need it, and in whatever quantities they require. And I will not rest until that is the reality for every Fijian.

We all know that is often Fijian women who bear the brunt of labour in providing clean water for their families and communities. In the vast majority of cases, Fijian women are the ones travelling to sources of water and who are carrying the heavy loads of water for washing, cooking and cleaning. It’s no coincidence that international organisations and institutions all point to access to clean water as an essential component of women’s empowerment, and that is a recognition shared by my Government.

For those reasons, while this is a victory for every member of your communities, it is a special victory for the women of Natadradave, and for your children as well, who can now grow up with the comfort of reliable access to clean water. And we can all thank God our youngest Fijians here today will never know the struggles borne in the past by your community in securing water that was safe to drink.

With that, it gives me great pleasure to officially declare this water project open.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you. 

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