About 250 km northwest from Kenya's capital of Nairobi on the shores of Lake Victoria sits a small village. Newly constructed on the grounds of its junior high school is a Yamaha Clean Water Supply System, a small-scale water purification facility that cleans water through natural filtration methods. Furthermore, Yamaha Motor, a local NGO, and the local rugby association joined forces to put on rugby workshops at the school. This initiative was started through Yamaha Motor's Blue Ties program, which pairs the collection and donation of rugby clothing and equipment with access to drinkable water.
■Multiple Benefits by Combining Solutions to Issues
Students smile as they turn on the water from the system for a drink after a rugby workshop.
"The United Nations advocates creating multiple benefits by overlapping efforts to meet the different challenges in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The starting point for this initiative was that we thought we could address Clean Water and Sanitation, Quality Education, and Good Health & Well-Being at the same time if we combined access to drinkable water with sports, in what would be a uniquely Yamaha Motor approach," explains OKABE, Norihiko from Yamaha Motor's Overseas Market Development Operation Business Unit.
In 2022, a Yamaha Clean Water Supply System (YCW) was installed in the village of Seka Kagwa, which sits on the shores of Lake Victoria some 250 km from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The system uses a natural water purification method and because it can be operated and maintained independently by local residents, it has proven to be highly effective in small communities without access to permanent water facilities in emerging markets. As of March 2023, a total of 50 YCW units have been installed in 16 countries around the world, helping to enrich people's lives with clean water.
The YCW unit was installed at a junior high school in the village, and Yamaha Motor, a local NGO, and the local rugby association also put on rugby workshops for its students.
■Clean Water Puts People on the Starting Line to Greater Happiness
Yamaha Motor collaborated with the SCRUM Action program run by the Shizuoka BlueRevs rugby team competing in Japan's premier league to run the Blue Ties initiative for developing countries. Rugby equipment and clothing no longer used by the Shizuoka BlueRevs team and sportswear donated by spectators at home games are delivered to countries in Asia and Africa.
Kenya's first-ever YCW unit was installed through a public-private grassroots partnership aimed at aiding economic development. Pictured from the left are MOTOTANI, Ryuichi, Anthony Mwaura Muhia (with East Africa Regional Office, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.), and OKABE, Norihiko.
Unlike track and field or football, rugby is still not a popular sport in Kenya, but in recent years, achievements like winning international rugby sevens tournaments have demonstrated the excellent physical ability and immense potential of Kenyan athletes.
Hoping to further nurture the growth of the sport in the country, Yamaha Motor donated jerseys, balls, practice equipment, and more (provided by the Shizuoka BlueRevs) to the junior high school, and Yamaha employees--including a former Yamaha Motor Rugby Club member--joined the students to work up a sweat.
After spending time learning, passing, and chasing after the ball, the students satisfy their parched throats with the sparkling clean water from the system's faucet, and the smiles that follow are wonderful to see. The school's P.E. teacher--who has rugby experience himself--commented that, "Rugby is a team sport that requires dedication, and students can learn and acquire that kind of discipline through it while still having fun." He hopes to keep holding such rugby classes in the future.
The school's students previously had no choice but to drink rainwater or from the rivers flowing into Lake Victoria, but they now drink the clean water provided by the YCW. In villages in Madagascar and Senegal, where the YCW was first introduced, over 90% of residents responded that the frequency of stomachaches and other symptoms had fallen significantly since they began using it.
"I'll never forget something I heard while here in Kenya: 'Happiness isn't about having access to clean water, it's clean water being the norm,'" says MOTOTANI, Ryuichi, who worked with Okabe and the rest of the project team to set up Kenya's first YCW. He also expressed the level of ambition behind the YCW: "Just installing the system to purify water isn't the end goal. We're getting people onto the starting line so that they can become happier. We're going a step beyond simply ensuring a hygienic lifestyle, because we want to also help improve people's health and bring more smiles to the faces of the country's youth."
Message from the Editor
Mototani-san's previous job was as an engineer in one of our manufacturing technology departments, while Okabe-san was originally from a corporate department. Both of them used Yamaha's internal open recruitment system to switch to the clean water business, stating they felt a strong calling to help people in need and wanting to actively contribute to society.