A kibbutz company in Israel leases 100 acres of land off of Bedouins in the Negev Desert to plant new solar panel project. Image via dlisbona
Israel’s Bedouin population may not be the most impoverished among the Bedouin clans in the Middle East, but they are very much marginalized people in need of some good opprtunities. And what could be better than a green ones? A new sunny land deal connects a local kibbutz and two clans, and it is expected to inject monetary resources into the Bedouin community.
Last week the Israeli business newspaper Globes reported that the Arava Power Company has signed contracts to build three solar power fields on land owned by the Tarabin and Abu Karinath Bedouin clans near Lehavim in the Negev.
Arava estimates that NIS 400 million (about $110 million UDS) will be needed to finance the construction of the solar fields, expected to produce 20 megawatts of electricity on 370 dunam (92.5 acres) of land. The company said that the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will finance 80% of the cost of the solar fields, worth over $300 million.”
Arava Power has pledged to build the fields within four years and to pay NIS 6000 per dunam (about $1,500).
From the point of view of the company, this is only the beginning of a good partnership between it and the Bedouin community in the Negev. The company would like to sign on similar contracts with the Bedouins in the future.
However, Arava Power Company is not the only company which collaborates with the Bedouins on the subject of solar energy. Bustan – an NGO (we’ve covered here), which was founded in 1999 by Devorah Brous and currently headed by Bedouin activist Ra’ed Al-Mickawi, comprised of Jewish and Arab eco-builders, architects, academics and farmers promoting social and environmental justice in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, has partnered in 2008 with solar designers and manufacturers at Interdan to bring solar-powered electricity to Bedouin villages that were not connected to the national grid and which would obtain electricity only by using expensive diesel or gas-powered generators at each family house.
With initiatives conducted by Arava Power Company, Bustan and Interdan, the Bedouins in the Negev will be able to enjoy more sustainable and environmental progress and might have solutions to their major problems, one of which is the lack of electricity in many unrecognized and recognized villages.
Hopefully, more companies will collaborate with the Bedouins on the issue of solar energy, from which everyone can benefit: the Bedouins, the other communities living in the Negev, and the Environment.
Read more on Bedouin and green issues:
Cycling for Peace in Israel
Meet the Green Bedouin Ahmed Amrani
Learn Immersion Arabic in Israel’s Bedouin Solar Village