Turaga na Tui Vanuaso,
Naiviqeleqele vua na Turaga na Ratu,
Vanua Nadawa vua na Turaga na Takalai Gau,
Lesilesi ni bose ko Viti Turaga na Tui Naigani,
Bula Vinaka and good morning to you all.
I have said many times that we cannot have two Fijis—one Fiji that enjoys all the advantages of the modern world and one that is denied those same advantages. We cannot have one Fiji of opportunity and hope and another Fiji that struggles to obtain what people need to have a healthy and productive life. We cannot have one Fiji where clean water and electricity are abundant and taken for granted and another Fiji where people never know if they will have the water and power they need.
That is why my government has made it a priority to close the gap between Fiji’s urban areas and its rural and maritime areas. We do this by making special efforts in the rural areas—to educate your children, to keep you safe and healthy, to provide internet and legal services—and, of course, to bring you electrical power and clean water.
It is not easy to provide power and clean water in rural areas and on small islands. I don’t have to tell you that because you have to live with that reality. But the things that are truly valuable in life are often not easy. So we have to work on it. We have to be committed. And we have to plan intelligently and find the right systems with the right technology for each village, whether it is in the highlands of Viti Levu or the Lomaiviti Islands.
We have done that here. By using technologies like solar systems and modern catchment systems, we are quickly reaching our goal of providing clean water to all Fijians and reliable electrical power to all Fijians by 2021. We have taken one more step toward that goal here in Nacavanadi with the water and power systems that we commission today. And I am very pleased that we are using technology that is sustainable, clean and very practical for this island.
The new water system installed by the Water Authority of Fiji, which I know you have been using, consists of a large catchment for rainwater and a piping system to distribute the water in the village. With the large catchment, you can capture and store enough rainwater to be assured that you will have water when you need it, even during the dry season. And your children now have reliable water in their school.
Clean water is critical for the health of a community. It is the most basic human need. So it is the duty of government to make sure the people have access to it, and I am committed to making sure that clean water is available every day in every village and settlement in Fiji. I want clean water to be a part of the everyday life of our rural citizens, just as it is for city dwellers.
We cannot rely on streams and ground water on many islands, but we have plenty of rain in Fiji. Some small islands have always depended on rainwater, and that can be a problem even when we can predict when it will rain and when it will not. We used to be able to do that, but climate change can bring on unexpected periods of drought just as it can deluge us with rain. If we want to make rain our source of water, we must be able to capture it, store it and distribute it intelligently. That is what you are doing here.
We also have an abundance of sunshine in Fiji, and we are harnessing it to provide reliable power to Nacavanadi Village. This new solar system gives you reliable power at all hours. It allows your children to study their lessons at night, and it allows you to be more productive. With reliable power, you can work when you want to or when you need to. You have more control over your day. You can produce more. And it means you will not have to put up with the noise and the fumes of a generator.
Again, the key to harnessing the power of the sun is to be able to store that power so that we can use it when we have no sun. That has been the great challenge for solar power for many years. But the global need for clean, sustainable electric power has driven tremendous research and innovation in the last several years, and we are on our way to solving that problem. That is why we are now able to deploy these systems in our villages—because we now can store enough of the sun’s energy to keep the lights on in every village even when we have no sun.
Ladies and gentlemen, the rural villages of Fiji are a source of strength for our nation and a national treasure. My government wants to be sure that our rural villages can prosper. I want to be sure that there are opportunities for young people in your villages, so they will stay. I want to be sure there is a high quality of life in our villages, so the people can live long and healthy lives. Any village in Fiji can prosper and make great contributions to the nation if it has the basic necessities of modern life. That is the job of government. The rest is up to you.
Enjoy the power system and water system that we have delivered for you. I know you will make the most of the opportunity they represent.