A Sigatoka farming community in the upper Sigatoka area is grateful that they now have a borehole that will provide them with clean drinking water.
The borehole funded by British American Tabacco (BAT) was officially commissioned by the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy at Nabitu on Tuesday (30.3.21).
About 60 people in the area were the direct beneficiaries of the project that also boosts a 10,000 litre capacity reservoir through a water tank, to ensure regular water supply to these households was maintained.
“Water matters. The entire household core revolves around water. You can survive without electricity but you cannot survive without water,” Minister Reddy said.
“Today this community here is blessed to receive this gift of life from this corporate body – British American Tobacco. This community will now have a steady source of clean water for consumption, for household use, and surplus water can be used for agriculture.”
He said the event marked the 11th borehole the British American Tobacco has established.
Dr Reddy said BAT may have thought that the assistance they provided was only for the households that would benefit, however, it was much more than that.
“For us, British American Tobacco has assisted the agriculture sector. “We really appreciate this support. If households do not have water then they cannot perform, they cannot work in the farm. Households must have water.”
He said there were many factors linked to the quality of life that in turn was linked to water.“The performance of children in school is linked to water availability. The performance of farmers on the farm is linked to water availability.
BAT General Manager, Mr Damian Bruty said he was proud that the continued health and well-being of their farmers was a priority for BAT Fiji’s continuing Corporate Social Investment program. He said the commissioning of the Nabitu Borehole was proof of that.
“As a business, we place great importance on prioritising initiatives with BAT Fiji tobacco farmers to address inequalities that may exist in their communities and the Nabitu borehole is just one of 11 that BAT Fiji has constructed under our flagship Corporate Social Investment Project – Project Aqua.”
Mr Bruty thanked the community of Nabitu for the ownership they took of the borehole project. He said their farming communities played a vital role in assisting with the construction of each borehole.
“For this borehole, the farmers of the Nabitu community transported gravel from the Sigatoka River-bed, up the hill behind us to be used in the construction of the tank base- which, as you can see, is not a task for the faint of heart.
Mr Bruty explained BAT Fiji had invested more than $500,000 in Project Aqua to ensure that their partner farmers in Sigatoka and Nadi had safe, clean drinking water.
Landowner and Head of Mataqali Navala, Yavusa Nabuavatu, Mr Emosi Tunisa who spoke in iTaukei said their prayers were finally answered.
He said they had always wanted a source for clean drinking water and remembered that it was a dream of their elders and they were blessed to see that day finally arrive.
Mr Tunisa said there were many areas in Fiji that still did not have clean drinking water and they were lucky to witness their water source become a reality.
He thanked BAT for answering their prayers. He said as planters of tobacco they were now receiving more assistance that helped develop their community and for that they were grateful.