Project Wadi Attir


Innovations at Project Wadi Attir

The project was initiated by The Sustainability Laboratory in partnership with the Hura Municipal Council. It presents an integrated, holistic approach to development, relevant to the local community, to the region, and to other arid zones around the world.

The brainchild of Dr. Michael Ben-Eli, founder of The Lab, the project innovates in five key dimensions, reflecting The Lab’s sustainability principles, and related to the Material, Economic, Social, Life, and Spiritual Domains.

  • Material Domain

    Project Wadi Attir’s system of integrated green technologies and waste-to-resources approach maximizes the use of renewable resources, eliminates harmful emissions, and aims for near-zero waste.

  • Economic Domain

    The project seeks to go beyond “job creation” by creating new enterprises and empowering a community of entrepreneurs who take responsibility for their own futures and can inspire other community members to do the same.

  • Social Domain

    The project has been successful in creating a unique coalition of individuals and groups representing all sectors of Israeli society, and featuring cooperation between different Bedouin tribes, women in leadership roles, and a cooperative organizational structure.

  • Domain of Life

    The project takes a humane and low-impact approach to raising farm animals, while orchestrating the enrichment of biodiversity of flora and fauna on the project site.

  • Spiritual (Values) Domain

    The project is anchored in a value proposition, upheld by the community and articulated in the project’s Declaration of Principles.

Program Initiatives and Technologies

Mouse over the key or map markers for more information.

The Indigenous Vegetable Initiative involves the cultivation of a variety of authentic, indigenous desert vegetables, in order to preserve and document traditional Bedouin vegetable cultivation techniques and contribute to better nutrition within the community. A women-led training program helps spread the cultivation of indigenous vegetables on family-managed plots.

The Medicinal Plants Initiative preserves, documents, and showcases traditional Bedouin knowledge in natural healing remedies and body care utilizing desert herbs. It is currently establishing a high-quality brand of healing and cosmetic products, including creams, soaps, infusion teas and essential oils.

The Herding and Dairy Initiative demonstrates a modern, economically-viable model for animal husbandry that is consistent with traditional practice. It produces a variety of high-quality cheeses, and will soon utilize the full range of herding byproducts, including dairy products, bio-gas fuel, manure for fertilizer, and wool for weaving and crafts.

The Visitor, Training and Education Center is designed to serve as an important eco-tourism destination, providing a source of income, while introducing visitors to Bedouin society, tradition and culture. The center also provides technical training for surrounding communities, acting as a source of ongoing empowerment, and it functions as a significant regional research and education center, serving primary and high schools from around the Negev.

The project’s Ecosystem Restoration Initiative incorporates an extensive soil enhancement, water retention and biodiversity enrichment agenda, demonstrating a process for combatting desertification.

Project Wadi Attir’s solar energy system is being developed in collaboration with the Israeli startup AugWind. The system offers a novel technology incorporating wind and solar energy generation as well as storage.

Project Wadi Attir’s bio-gas facility will convert manure from the animal pens to bio-gas, for use in the project’s kitchen and to demonstrate viable options for domestic energy needs.

Wastewater from the Visitor’s Center, the kitchen and the restaurant will be treated in an open-air biological system. Sewage will be treated by a separate constructed wetland and used for the irrigation of landscaping around the buildings on the site.

Solid organic waste from animal pens and agricultural plots will be used in the production of compost. The latter will be used to fertilize grazing and plant growing areas. Surplus will be packaged and offered for sale.

The Irrigation System at Project Wadi Attir employs state-of-the-art drip irrigation technology, developed in collaboration with Netafim, a world leader in the field. Two separate water delivery systems–one for freshwater and the other for treated wastewater–serve the site.

The buildings on site are designed according to “green building” guidelines incorporating appropriate technologies for energy conservation, passive heating and cooling, natural lighting and the use of energy efficient appliances.

The project site is supported by an integrated infrastructure of green technologies. It includes a pioneering hybrid wind/solar energy system, a state-of-the-art irrigation system, a bio-gas production system, a wastewater treatment system, and a compositing facility.

Impacts at Project Wadi Attir

“Project Wadi Attir is creating a new reality of empowerment and hope for the future, encouraging a move to self-reliance. In particular, the project creates an unprecedented new situation whereby women are equal partners in leading a significant development process with men. Involvement in the project will open new horizons and new opportunities for women and strengthen their ability to influence the fabric of family and community.” Amal Elsana-Alh’jooj

“This project offers a golden opportunity for people in the Bedouin community to organize in an independent, democratic fashion, with emphasis on common goals, shared effort and commitment to community values. With this project we broke the mythos that ‘these people’ are not able to manage themselves, that they always need someone else to tell them what to do. In all my years in community work, I have never come cross a change-making project like Project Wadi Attir.” Aatef Abu Ajaj
Founding Member of the Project Team

“Once the project is fully realized, it will undoubtedly serve as a blueprint for the development of rural areas in Africa and other Less Developed Countries. I am very optimistic about the success of this project under the leadership of Dr. Ben-Eli, whose creativity and imagination is put to use to conceive, organize and orchestrate the process.” Professor Jimmy Weinblatt
President, Sapir Academic College, Formerly Rector, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

“The project actually enhances our tradition. In the case of preserving indigenous seeds, just as in the case of reviving traditional medicinal plants and animal husbandry, there is much to learn from people in the community. I think that everyone – adults, young people and children – can all join in this project. Everyone can learn, as well as teach.” Mariam Abu Rakayek
Founding Member of the Project Team

“It has been an honor for me to participate as one of the founders of Project Wadi Attir. This unique project constitutes an important breakthrough in the area of sustainable development, an idea which resonates with values and principles that were deeply ingrained in Bedouin society, prior to the era of urbanization of the last few decades.” Dr. Mohammed Alnabari
Mayor of Hura, Founding Member of the Project Team

Latest News and Updates