Pairing Clean Water and Sports to Bring Happiness

Providing Potable Water and Supporting Sports in a Unique Social Initiative

About 250 km northwest of Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, on the shores of Lake Victoria, sits a small village. Newly constructed on its junior high school grounds 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 organise 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.

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, 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.

Unlike track and field or football, rugby is still not a popular sport in Kenya. Still, in recent years, achievements like winning international rugby sevens tournaments have demonstrated Kenyan athletes’ excellent physical ability and immense potential.

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—commented, “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 to become happier. We’re going beyond simply ensuring a hygienic lifestyle because we want also to help improve people’s health and bring more smiles to the faces of the country’s youth.”