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Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for Project Wadi Attir in Negev - a JNF Project

Contact: Ariel Vered • Communications Manager • 212-879-9305 ext. 227 • avered@jnf.org

Construction to Begin in 2012 for Innovative Bedouin Community

December 16, 2011Israel – Innovation is coming to the Negev.

Project Wadi Attir, a Jewish National Fund (JNF) partner, is coming to fruition in the form of a Bedouin, community-based enterprise that will combine traditional Bedouin agriculture and modern technology.

“Project Wadi Attir is leading the vision of change,” said JNF CEO Russell Robinson. “We are part of the journey of transforming the Negev to part of a better future for the entire country.”

This week, Robinson attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Project Wadi Attir, a Bedouin, community-based enterprise in the Negev desert. Attendees included guest of honor Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee Silvan Shalom, KKL-JNF Chairman Efi Stenzler, and the mayors from Rahat and Segev Shalom.

“Everyone worked together with the objective of implementing change and advancing the Negev," said Hura Mayor Dr. Muhammad El-Nabari.

Located at the Yatir junction south of Hura, the project is the brainchild of Dr. Michael Ben Eli of the Sustainability Laboratory and Hura Mayor Dr. Muhammad El-Nabari. The objective is to restore agricultural practices that have been an integral part of Bedouin culture for hundreds of years, while creating a model for sustainable desert agriculture in an arid environment. JNF is raising designated funds for this project; all gifts will be matched by a $500,000 challenge grant from the Arnow family.

Project Wadi Attir represents an innovation in the Negev, combining Bedouin aspirations, values and experience, with sustainability principles and cutting edge approaches to renewable energy production, resource recycling, and arid land stewardship. This marks an important milestone as the first agricultural cooperative for the Bedouin community. Encouraging community participation and upholding community values are cornerstone principle’s of the project, as a way of strengthening the Bedouin population.

The farm's crops and produce will include traditional medicinal herbs, plants for health products and cosmetics, herds of sheep and cows for meat and milk, and organic vegetables that are indigenous to the area. It will also produce unique dairy products that are stored without refrigeration, in keeping with the traditional lifestyle of the Bedouin in the Negev.

“The aim is to improve the fertility of desert land while using advanced technology,” said Dr. Michael Ben Eli. “This project will contribute to the Bedouin community, the Negev, the country, and the entire world.”

The site will also function as a research and learning center and as an ongoing source of empowerment and training for surrounding communities. A visitor’s center will include an exhibition area, lecture hall, laboratories, offices and class rooms, and a restaurant and gift shop to promote Bedouin hospitality, culture, local crafts, and the farm’s agricultural products.

Project Wadi Attir is one of the many projects that JNF has undertaken to raise the quality of life for all Negev inhabitants as part of the far-reaching Blueprint Negev initiative to bring population to the region. JNF’s work with Bedouin aims to promote cooperation between the Bedouin and Jewish populations. That includes building a park in Segev Shalom, a Bedouin village of 10,000 people in the Negev; building a purification plant and large effluent reservoir near the Bedouin city of Rahat; and working with Arava Institute for Environmental Studies on environmental projects that benefit the Bedouin community. KKL-JNF is currently looking into a number projects with the Abu Basma Regional Council such as building a regional council complex/medical center; improving education and quality of life opportunities; and promoting tourism in the region.

“JNF and KKL are proud of the role they are playing in improving the lives of all the residents of the Negev,” Robinson said. “This is the difference between talking and doing. We are about progress.”

Construction of the farm is expected to begin in early 2012, and will take approximately three years.

For more in-depth information on this innovative project, visit jnf.org/project-wadi-attir.

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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.

For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.

 

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