If you know anything about Israel’s 245,000 Negev Bedouin, an indigenous, a once nomadic people, you know that their standard of living is below par in just about every way. Negev Bedouin towns are characterized by high rates of poverty and school dropout, as well as a dearth of adequate commercial, industrial, transportation, health, recreation and sanitation infrastructure.
To address these problems, Shatil is collaborating with the European Union, Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights and the Bedouin town of Laqiya to create a pioneering, replicable model for giving Bedouin municipalities the tools, skills and knowledge to improve their residents’ lives. This will done through strategically planning for economic, social and physical development. In effect, Shatil is helping to create the first economic strategic planning division in a Bedouin town, which will involve Laqiya’s residents in decisions – also a first.
The project, called “Good Governance and Strategic Planning in Laqiya: Strengthening the Abilities of the Local Authority,” will train and mobilize local professionals and officials to envision and implement a development plan with the participation of other residents, especially marginalized groups such as women and youth. Laqiya is currently home to 12,000 people, with another 4,500 in adjacent unrecognized villages that would be incorporated into the town as part of the planning process.
“This project will empower and improve the Laqiya municipality and especially the relationship between the municipality and the residents,” said Mansour Alsana, former city engineer and advisor to Laqiya’s mayor on planning matters.
The project will also help the Laqiya municipality secure development funds allocated by Government Resolution 2397, a five-year plan to close socio-economic gaps among the Bedouin. To date, most of these funds have gone unused because the application process is complex and out of reach for most Bedouin city officials.
Government officials are already excited about the project, saying they see the importance of creating strategic planning divisions in every Bedouin town.