Perhaps there has never been an era in human history in which the ancient Greek philosopher Thales’ assertion that “water is the principle (source) of all things” has rung so true in people’s hearts and minds. Today, as concerns about lack of water and the deteriorating quality of water spread in societies worldwide, a new means for a stable supply of clean water is helping to change people’s lives in West Africa and Southeast Asia.

What started the connection between Yamaha Motor and clean, safe water supply was when concerns of the families of Yamaha employees stationed in Indonesia reached the headquarters in Japan, leading the company to develop items like home-use water purifying devices. Then, seeing first-hand the difficult realities developing countries were facing in obtaining clean water, Yamaha began developing a new water purification system.

The “Yamaha Clean Water Supply System” was the fruit of that effort. It is a water purification system aimed at people in developing countries struggling to obtain clean drinking water. It features a simple construction based on the “slow sand filtration method” (a natural water purification method), and since it requires no filter replacement, maintenance by specialized technicians or large amounts of electricity, etc., it can be operated and managed completely by residents of the local village or community. Through the cooperation of government and public organizations in Japan like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), as well as international organizations like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Yamaha Motor is proceeding with the installation of this small-scale water purification system in various localities. As of September 2015, Yamaha Clean Water Systems have been installed in four communities in Africa and seven in Southeast Asia, and further work is underway to install around 18 more in countries like Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Cameroon and the Philippines.

The system employs the simple “slow sand filtration method” based on the water purification process of the natural world.

From the time development began, the motivating concern that has driven the Yamaha people involved in this project is the belief that “improving the water will improve people’s lives.” True to these words, in communities where the Yamaha Clean Water Supply System has been installed, women and children are relieved of the laborious task of drawing water, and the system has created new business opportunities like selling and delivering its potable water to neighboring villages.

The Yamaha Clean Water Supply System (photo of an installation in Senegal) is an embodiment of the belief that “improving the water will improve people’s lives.” Photo: Shinichi Kuno, JICA
In communities where the system is installed, local residents form a clean water committee to operate and maintain the facility themselves.

In recognition of these achievements, the Yamaha Clean Water Supply System was awarded the prestigious Good Design Gold Award (the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Prize) of the Japan Institute of Design Promotion in 2013, noting that it was “an excellent example of system design that understands the situation in emerging markets.”