How MJB is Contributing to the Efforts of the Israeli Government to Improve the Lives of the Bedouin in the Negev
Prof. Bruce Rosen – Dr. Dafna Haran – Dr. Yonatan Eyal
There are approximately 270,000 Bedouin living in Israel’s southern district, and they are among Israel’s most disadvantaged populations in terms of education, employment, and income. In 2017, the Government of Israel (GOI) launched an ambitious five-year plan to improve the lives of the Negev Bedouin, with a plan budget of 3.2 billion dollars and with the involvement of over ten different government ministries. The GOI commissioned Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute (MJB) to provide analytic input into the implementation of the 2017-2021 plan, to evaluate that plan, and to draw lessons from it for subsequent efforts to improve the lives of the Bedouin.
MJB responded by establishing a new research team – the Arab Population Team – and charging it with leading an institute-wide evaluation effort (“Baadia”). Overall, 6 different MJB teams were involved in Baadia, and 16 in-depth different studies were carried out. These studies dealt with such topics as the barriers to the employment of Bedouin women; the limited accessibility of services for Bedouin children with disabilities; the causes of the high rate of school drop-out, the low achievements in the matriculation exams and inadequacies in teaching quality; and ways to strengthen the capacities of Bedouin local municipalities.
In addition, several cross-cutting efforts were undertaken; they included the development of a dashboard of key indicators regarding the economic, social, and health status of the Bedouin population; an analysis of how to improve the work programs developed by the multiple ministries involved in the five-year plan; difficulties in plan implementation stemming from differences in culture and values between the Negev Bedouin and the general population; the potential for enhanced public participation in project planning and implementation; and an integrated analysis of the overall impact of the five-year plan. Many of these topics had never been studied beforehand in connection with the Bedouin population and some of them had not been studied systematically for any Israeli population group.
A key feature of Baadia was the close working relationship between MJB and the government agency responsible for implementing the five-year plan – The Department for Socio-Economic Development of the Bedouin Society in the Negev. MJB provided them with ongoing input based on the studies being carried out as well as more formal reports at the end of the project. Of particular note was MJB’s timely response to the agency’s request to provide recommendations regarding the content of a GOI cabinet-level decision to launch an additional five-year plan (for the years 2022-2026).
Another defining – and pioneering – feature of Baadia was the integration into a coherent whole of the work of many different research teams, working across a wide variety of topics. As such, Baadia catalyzed the development of MJB’s capacity to work on particularly large projects in a matrix fashion – a capacity which MJB can now put to use in the future on other high priority challenges facing Israeli society.