Project Wadi Attir

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Project Wadi Attir is a groundbreaking initiative of a Bedouin community in the Negev desert, demonstrating an approach to sustainable desert agriculture that leverages Bedouin traditional values, know-how and experience with modern-day science and cutting edge technologies.

Initiated by The Sustainability Laboratory, a US-based non-profit, and the Hura Municipal Council, the governing body of a local Bedouin township, the project showcases implementation of holistic sustainability principles developed by The Lab. It demonstrates an approach to sustainable development in an arid environment, valid and replicable locally as well as in other desert regions around the world.

The core of the project includes an organic farming enterprise involving animal husbandry and the production of dairy products; cultivation of medicinal plants and the development of a related line of health products; and the reintroduction of nutritious, indigenous vegetables to common use. The project also includes a Visitor, Training and Education Center with a focus on ecology, sustainability innovation, and entrepreneurship. The project site will be supported by an integrated infrastructure of green technologies, including a soil enhancement program; solar energy and bio-gas production; the production of compost from organic waste; advanced irrigation management; and wastewater treatment and recycling.

Implementation of the project has been supported by a uniquely broad coalition involving a government consortium led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and including the Ministry of Development of the Negev and the Galilee; the Finance Ministry; and the Ministry of Social Equality; as well as researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, JNF USA, local NGOs and kibbutzim, private sector enterprises, foundations, and individual donors.

For a full list of donors, click here.

Declaration of Principles

At the outset, founding members of Project Wadi Attir developed and committed to a set of guidelines, expressed in a Declaration of Principles, which anchored the project’s intentions and provided it with a clear foundation.

Read Project Wadi Attir’s Declaration of Principles

Learn More About The Lab’s Signature Approach

Team

Michael Ben-Eli
Founder, The Sustainability Laboratory

Prior to founding The Lab, Dr. Michael Ben-Eli worked as an international management consultant, pioneering applications of Systems Thinking and Cybernetics in management and organization. Over the years, he worked on synthesizing strategy issues in many parts of the world and in diverse institutional settings, ranging from small high technology firms to multinational enterprises, manufacturing companies, financial institutions, health care and educational organizations, government agencies, NGOs, and international multilateral organizations. In recent years, he has focused primarily on issues related to sustainability and sustainable development. He is author of the widely acclaimed Five Core Sustainability Principles, and has been working to help inspire leaders in business, government, community, and youth to accelerate a peaceful transition to a sustainable future. Dr. Ben Eli graduated from the Architectural Association in London and later received a Ph.D. from the Institute of Cybernetics at Brunel University, where he studied under Gordon Pask. He was a close associate of R. Buckminster Fuller, with whom he collaborated on research involving advanced structural systems, and issues related to the management of technology and world resources for the advantage of all.

Mohammed Alnabari
Mayor of Hura, Founding Member and Co-Chairman of the Board of Project Wadi Attir

Dr. Mohammed Alnabari has been serving as the Mayor of Hura, one of the major Bedouin townships in Israel’s Negev desert, since 2004. Mohammed earned a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Ben-Gurion University, and brings with him extensive experience in the private sector, following a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry with a number of international pharmaceutical patents to his name. He represents a new brand of leadership in the Bedouin community and has been instrumental in developing close working relationships with various ministries of the Israeli government, private sector and civil society, introducing innovative new approaches for improving the lives of the Bedouin community in the Negev. Mohammed is a founding member and co-chairman of Project Wadi Attir, in partnership with Dr. Michael Ben-Eli. He also serves as the chairman and founding member of Desert Stars, a nonprofit organization established to nurture a new generation of leadership within Bedouin society. He is a founding member and chairman of Alsanbel Social Enterprise for the Employment of Women, in partnership with local NGO AJEEC-NISPED and Mr. Itzik Zivan. He is married and has 6 children.

Itzik Zivan
CEO, Project Wadi Attir

Itzik Zivan is a successful Israeli business leader, social entrepreneur, and impact investor who has been working with civil society organizations and Jewish and Bedouin leaders to advance projects in the Negev that strengthen its shared economic and social future. One of the owners of the British company Zivtex LTD, an international textile trading company, Itzik serves as CEO and a board member of Alsanabel, the catering enterprise of the women of Hura. Prior to that, he served as VP at Pex LTD, the leader of a Nachal group, and as CEO of the socks division of Delta Textiles. He is a graduate of the Technion Haifa in Computer Science. He is married with four children.

Yunes Nabari
Project Manager, Founding Member of Project Wadi Attir

Yunes Nabari is a founding member of the Wadi Attir Cooperative and serves as Project Manager. A father of six, Yunes comes from a lineage of traditional herders spanning many generations and relocated to the village of Hura over 15 years ago. Yunes, an innate entrepreneur, completed an intensive course in organic agriculture through the Ministry of Agriculture and has a bachelor’s degree in Public Management from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He is one of the Negev Fellows for Society and the Environment, a member of the Negev Leaders Forum, and a member of the Joe Alon Center’s Ramon Strategic Thinking Forum. Yunes is a public representative on the Hura local council, and is a social activist and volunteer in several social-economic initiatives in the Bedouin community.

Ghadir Hani
Executive Secretary and Managing Director of the Dairy, Founding Member of Project Wadi Attir

Ghadir Hani is a founding member of the Wadi Attir Cooperative, and serves as the project’s lead administrator. She is in charge of communications with the project’s many partners and stakeholders, and has taken on the formidable task of handling the large amounts of government paperwork associated with a project of this complexity. Ghadir is also working with NISPED, where she serves as the Coordinator of Women’s Economic Empowerment Projects.

Arielle Angel
Director of Operations, The Sustainability Laboratory

Arielle Angel is an artist, writer, entrepreneur and environmentalist. She began her professional life as an administrator at two New York art non-profits, but complementary passions for travel and the arts drew her away from New York and into a variety of community-based initiatives, including a yearlong artist residency at a cultural center and urban renewal project in South Carolina, and a stint as a field worker with an Israeli INGO in Nepal called Tevel b’Tzedek, where she organized programming for Nepali women’s groups during the day, and soaked up lectures on sustainable development at night. She strongly believes that we must act now to combat climate change and environmental collapse. To that end, she is thrilled to be working under Dr. Michael Ben-Eli on the many initiatives of The Sustainability Laboratory. Arielle holds a BS in Studio Art from NYU and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia University.

Lina Alatawna
Director of Operations, Project Wadi Attir

Lina Alatawna is a Chemical Engineer who holds a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from the Shamoon College of Engineering. Lina joined Project Wadi Attir in February 2016 as Director of Operations, examining the structure and working methods of the organization to make it more effective.

Ali Alhawashla
Director of Medicinal Plants, Founding Member of Project Wadi Attir

Ali Alhawashla is regarded by the Bedouin community as a prominent expert on Negev medicinal plants and has devoted his life to studying their characteristics and usages. Ali also completed a training program in organic agriculture, and has been busy growing and preparing plants for transfer to the project site.

Eti Golan
Manager of the Medicinal Plants Initiative, Project Wadi Attir

Eti Golan is an accredited naturopath (ND) and clinical herbalist (HC.I), descended from a line of healers. She holds a BA in Behavioral Science from – Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Eti specializes in natural healing with a focus on proper nutrition and the use of herbs. She has worked as an instructor and lecturer in health-promoting processes in various institutions, like “The Center for Neighborhood Sustainability”, and in private homes. She has also developed a line of natural products, services, cosmetics and treatments called Shirat Haasavim, which has prepared her to assist in doing the same at Project Wadi Attir.

Amran Amarni
Director of the Visitor, Training and Education Center, Project Wadi Attir

Amran Amarni received a BA in Environmental Science from the Institute for Democratic Education (IDE) at Simenar ha’Kibbutzim College of Education in Tel Aviv. During his studies there, he was chosen to represent the College at the Mofet Institute, a national inter-collegial center for the research and development of programs in teacher education and teaching in colleges. He received his MA in Environmental and Ecology Science at Tel Aviv University. He has also completed continuing education courses in Communications Network Management and Information Security Administration at the Technical College of Kfar Saba, as well as in Economics at Ben-Gurion University and at the College of Management in Rishon Letzion. Amran has worked as a coordinator of educational programs at The Council for a Beautiful Israel and at Appleseeds Academy in Tel Aviv. He has also volunteered in numerous projects related to youth leadership of diverse backgrounds, such as the JITLI Peacemakers International Teen Leadership Institute, the Ecological Greenhouse of Coexistence at Kibbutz Ein Shemer, and the Messengers of Peace Scouts. In all of these projects, he developed training programs, guided groups of students and lead mediation sessions between students of different cultures. More recently, he has worked as a biology teacher at the Dar Alqalam High School in Rahat. He lives with his wife in the village of Misr.

Sabach Jabar Alatawnah (Um Atia)
Dairy Operations, Project Wadi Attir

Um Atia, a mother of three from Hura, has been working at the dairy since its inception. She has professional training in cheese production, and has been making dairy products at home for much of her life. Um Atia is a hardworking and conscientious member of the team, and you can always taste the heart and soul she invests in all of her cheeses. She is thrilled to be working with the project, which she sees as a second home.

Nahid Abu Shareb
Bookkeeper, Project Wadi Attir

Nahid joined the project as a bookkeeper in December 2015, responsible for keeping track of the project’s budget. She studied accounting at Etgar College in Beer Sheva in 2010, and received a certificate in Office Systems Management in 2012. She has done accounting for several food product companies, including a dairy, and she is excited to bring that experience to Project Wadi Attir. Nahid lives in Hura with her husband and five children.

Mohammed Alnabari
Site Maintenance, Project Wadi Attir

Mohammed Alnabari is responsible for the maintenance of the entire site, especially the agricultural areas, including the planting limans and the irrigation system. He is also responsible for all the carpentry, metalwork and facility maintenance. Mohammed has been involved with the project since its early days. He sees it not only as a workplace, but as an integral part of his life. In the past, Mohammed worked as in maintenance for the Meytar Municipal Council and as an independent contractor in carpentry.

Mariam Abu Rakayek
Founding Member of Project Wadi Attir

Mariam Abu Rakayek received a degree in Business Administration and Marketing in the UK and went on to successfully launch her own line of therapeutic skin care remedies, body care products, and supplements. She is one amongst a handful of Bedouin women entrepreneurs in the Negev, who are succeeding by virtue of their great courage and fortitude, despite an enormous number of cultural and economic obstacles.

Shahde Abu Sbeit
Founding Member of Project Wadi Attir

Shahde Abu Sbeit is a graduate of the Tel Aviv-Yaffo Academic College and is certified in Education Management at the Kaye Academic College of Education. Shahde is a prominent Bedouin educator and former headmaster of the Mustakabal school – the school of the future – in the village of Abu Tiul. He recently retired after 35 years of educational leadership. Shahde, who has extensive background in raising sheep and goats, will oversee both the Educational Center and the Herding and Dairy Operation.

Naifa Alnabari
Director of Women's Programming, Founding Member of Project Wadi Attir

Naifa Alnabari is a graduate of the David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem. After a 22-year career as a Hebrew teacher, Naifa joined as one of the first members of the Wadi Attir Project. For the last ten years, Naifa has served as head of the Council for the Advancement of Women in the Bedouin Sector and is active in community relations in the town of Hura. Naifa will coordinate the incorporation of women in the project’s various aspects.

Aatef Abu Ajaj
CFO, Founding Member of Project Wadi Attir

Aatef Abu Ajaj serves as Director of Economic Empowerment Projects at the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPED). He is responsible for developing the cooperative structure of Project Wadi Attir. Aatef has examined various options, approaches and modalities for organizing an effective collective and is interfacing with the consultants working on the economic feasibility. A prolific activist for the empowerment of the Bedouin of the Negev, Aatef was recently awarded a tuition grant from the project’s funds to enroll in the Executive Master in Public Policy program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is the first Bedouin from the Negev to have been accepted into this prestigious program, and he recently graduated with distinction.

Ibrahim Alatrash
Member of Herding Team, Founding Member of Project Wadi Attir

Ibrahim Alatrash is a traditional Bedouin sheepherder with a rich family history of herding dating back hundreds of years. Ibrahim dwells in a tent encampment in the unrecognized tribal settlement Al-Atrash, south of Beer Sheva, and is a leader of the Sheep Growers Association of the Unrecognized Villages. Ibrahim is an associate member of the Wadi Attir Cooperative.

Dr. Stefan Leu
BGU Research Scientist, Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, Project Wadi Attir

Stefan Leu is a staff scientist at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Sede Boker, and the founder of Leu-Sella Environmental Development. He received his PhD in Biochemistry at The Institutes of Chemistry in Berne, Switzerland. His current research interests include global warming, afforestation and sustainable biosphere management; sustainable dryland management and medical plants; cell and molecular biology and biotechnology of microalgae for high value products and biofuels; sustainable biofuels production; and sustainability analyses of complex integrated agro-biological production systems, agroforestry and permaculture. With Leu Sella Envrionmental Development, he explores resource conserving agriculture, biodiversity assessment and soil improvement. He has published numerous papers, among them ‘Desert Agriculture of the Negev Bedouin: Potential for Socio-Economic Development and Ecological Rehabilitation’ (Management of Environmental Quality, 2009). At Project Wadi Attir, he works on the Soil Enhancement and Beekeeping Initiative.

Dr. Amit Gross
BGU Research Scientist, Bio-Gas and Wastewater, Project Wadi Attir

Dr. Amit Gross is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Hydrology and Microbiology at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR), Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. His research interests include treatment and efficient use of marginal water, remediation techniques, and the environmental risks associated with contaminated water resources and sludge. His current academic activities include the use of greywater and wastewater for irrigation; the development of waste management practices for efficient reuse and minimization of environmental pollution; efficient use of saline water for aquaculture purposes; and treatment of aquaculture effluent in recirculated aquaculture systems. He is on the editorial board of Conference Papers in Agriculure and the Urban Water Journal, and is an Associate Editor of the Universal Journal of Microbiology and Biochemistry. He received his Bachelors at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with a major in Animal Sciences. He received his Masters and PhD at Auburn University, where he was part of the Agriculture Faculty.

Dr. Isaac Meir
BGU Research Scientist, Green Building, Project Wadi Attir

Isaac A. Meir holds B.Arch.T.Pl. and M.Sc. degrees from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He joined the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research in 1986. He is an Associate Professor and has been Chair of the Desert Architecture and Urban Planning (DAUP) Department, and the Department of Man in the Desert (MID) from 2005-2010. He has published over a hundred papers, reports, chapters in books and collective volumes, and lectures extensively in Israel and abroad, including at the AASA, London, the School of Architecture of the Oxford Brookes University, the School of Architecture of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and the International Hellenic University. He participates in the design of environmentally conscious and experimental projects, including private and public buildings and clusters in the Israeli deserts. He also acts as a consultant to various institutions, among them the Israeli Ministries of Construction and Housing, Energy and Water, Israeli Land Administration, and the Standards Institute of Israel, where he heads multidisciplinary teams focusing on green technologies and sustainable development. Awards include the Sheba Award for Desert Architecture (1988) and for Excelling Scientist (2006), the Dori Award for Technology (1992), and the Emilio Ambasz Award for Green Architecture (2011). Research interests include sustainable design in arid zones, Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) and Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ), the microclimate of open spaces, and proactive contingency planning. In February of 2014, he was voted by an experts’ panel as one of the 100 Israelis influential in the country’s environmental policy (infrastructures and construction sector) for his research, outreach and educational activities, and involvement in promoting green sustainable architecture.

Dr. Or Yogev
Founder and CEO of AugWind LTD, Solar and Wind Energy, Project Wadi Attir

Dr. Or Yogev is the founder and CEO of AugWind LTD. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from the California Institute of Technology (CalTech). His thesis was awarded the Centennial Prize for Best Mechanical Engineering Thesis. After completing his PhD program, Dr. Yogev joined eSolar. At eSoalr, he gained vast experience in many aspects of solar thermal technology, serving initially as the Senior Research Scientist and finally as the Director of the Analysis Group. Dr Yogev has published four journal papers and has three patents under his name. He is currently working on applying the AugWind concept to the energy needs of Project Wadi Attir.

Sharon Heffer-Chaikin
Landscape Architect, Project Wadi Attir

Sharon Heffer-Chaikin is a landscape architect. She graduated from the Technion Institute in Haifa, Israel in 1994. She lives and works in the Negev. Her company deals with various public projects, including residential planning, educational projects and open space projects. Her work ranges from master planning to detailed planning, and includes vegetation programming. She is currently designing the landscaping for Project Wadi Attir

Dr. Shlomo Kimchie
Environmental Engineer, Composting, Project Wadi Attir

Dr. Shlomo Kimchie is a consultant to Project Wadi Attir mainly in the fields of compostation and anaerobic digestion technologies. He studied for his doctorate degree in Environmental Engineering at the Technion, Haifa where he is now a senior lecturer on wastewater and solid waste treatment technologies. In the last 15 years, Dr. Kimchie has taught at Braude College for Engineering, Carmiel, on biological waste treatment technologies. He is also the R&D Manager of the TAEQ (Towns Association for Environmental Quality) in the Regional Environmental Unit of Beit Netofa, where numerous projects on solid waste recycling, wastewater treatment and renewable energy applications are currently being conducted. Parallel to his academic duties, Dr. Kimchie runs a private office for environmental technology consulting. Among his customers are AIES (Arava Institute for Environmental Studies), the Ministry of Energy and Water, and many other municipalities, regional councils, engineering companies, agricultural farms and industrial plants.

Dani Columbus
Netafim, Drip Irrigation System, Project Wadi Attir

Dani Columbus has been a member of Kibbutz Hatzerim for many years, and has a wealth of experience in farm work and agricultural management. He holds a degree in agronomy from The Hebrew University in Rehovot, and worked many years at the irrigation company Netafim as a senior member of the engineering and design department, designing water supply and irrigation systems in Israel and abroad. As a member of the Wadi Attir Design Team, Dani designed the project’s water program and irrigation systems.

Shai Zauderer
Graphic Designer, Business Development Team, Project Wadi Attir

Shai Zauderer is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Shai has held managerial positions in graphic design firms and advertising agencies in both the USA and Israel. He also teaches courses in media and design strategies, most recently at Ben Gurion University. Over his career, Shai has accumulated practical experience in print, multimedia, video, packaging, branding, and internet disciplines.

Menachem Ofir
Green Building Team, Project Wadi Attir

Menachem Ofir studied practical architectural engineering and has been active professionally for over 25 years. He joined the Desert Architecture and Urban Planning (DAUP) Department, and the Department of Man in the Desert (MID) in 1999 and has been coordinating the technical and statutory processes of projects planned and designed by DAUP.

Michal Barak
Green Building Team, Project Wadi Attir

Michal Barak studied practical architectural engineering (Beer Sheva College of Technology) and has been a member of the Desert Architecture and Urban Planning (DAUP) Department, and the Department of Man in the Desert (MID) since 1987. She has contributed to all design pilot and experimental projects of the Unit since then.