Biogas for Bedouin & Off-Grid Communities
Arava Institute alumni are working on implementing sustainable development solutions in rural and marginalized communities. The flagship alumni program for the establishment of biogas and gray-water technology in an off-grid community was piloted by Arava alumni Yair Teller (Israeli) and Abeer Abu Sara (Palestinian). This program has most recently focused on the Palestinian village of Susya, a community in the West Bank that suffers from a lack of municipal services. Animal waste disposal is of particular concern as it is often piled up and then burned. This is a major health hazard, causing the spread of disease, accidental injuries, and respiratory ailments. Another common health hazard in the community is the indoor pollution and burns that are caused by cooking over open fires, a problem that most affects women and children. In addition, the Susya community struggles with the cost of fuel, which represents a large percentage of their income. The establishment of the biogas and gray-water technology has benefited the families in this village by improving environmental and personal health, enhancing residents’ financial situations and overall, improving the standard of living.
Arava institute alumni, in concert with the Arava Institute, are also working to develop additional biogas projects in Bedouin communities in Israel, Jordan, and in another community in the West Bank. Many thousands of Bedouin in these regions live in unrecognized villages with no modern infrastructure, and experience a myriad of problems that arise as a direct result of the lack of waste treatment. Biogas projects established in the Negev by two Arava alumni, Mazen Zoabi (Palestinian) and Ilana Meallem (Israeli), help to address these problems, including health ailments and environmental risks. A similar pilot project was later developed in southern Jordan.