The project got launched thanks to the Ministry of Culture and Sport getting involved and allocating NIS 8 million out of its budget toward the construction of the first swimming pool for the Bedouin society in the Negev in the course of 2016
The Ministry of Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Agriculture have succeeded in putting together the budget for building the first swimming pool for the Bedouin community in the Negev. The pool will be built in 2016 in the city of Rahat and is expected to cater to the education, leisure and recreation needs, and will enable school children from all over the Negev take swimming lessons, thereby reducing the number of drownings which recur every summer along the beaches. This is the first swimming pool to be built within Bedouin society, which will serve the Rahat residents as well as the rest of the Bedouins in the Negev. The Rahat swimming pool is the flagship project in the development program for the Bedouin towns in the Negev under Government Decision 3708. This year the five-year development plan will be coming to a close, within which the government has invested about one and a quarter billion shekels in the Negev Bedouin towns.
A professional interministerial team, lead by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, is working on the economic aspects of operating the pool and has also earmarked an appropriate site for its construction together with the Rahat municipality. The Ministry of Construction and Housing has approved the pool plan and in fact as soon as the budget is received, the Rahat municipality will be able to begin its construction. As a part of this move, the government together with the Rahat municipality will allocate a sum of NIS 19 million toward the construction of the pool.
As a part of the social-economic development plan put together by the government in 2012, the Ministry of Construction and Housing budgeted the construction of a first swimming pool for the Bedouins in the Negev. It was feared until recently that the budget would not be sufficient for the pool’s construction, however following a request made by MK Uri Ariel, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, who is in charge of the development works in the Negev Budget community to MK Miri Regev, Minister of Culture and Sport, the minister decided to transfer a special budget toward the construction of the pool.
Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, mentioned that “When I declared a reshuffling of priorities I promised people would feel the change. The right to swim in a pool and access to sport and recreation facilities are not luxuries reserved for the rich, these are also the rights of the residents of Rahat, Hura and the al-Kasom and the rest of the Bedouin towns, who are entitled to enjoy bathing in a swimming pool”.
Minister Uri Ariel said: “When I took office I found out that there is a lack of sport and recreation facilities in the Bedouin towns in the Negev. The pool in Rahat will be the first and it will be followed by more pools, soccer fields and culture halls.” Ariel added that: “I reiterate that the Bedouins share the same rights and obligations as any other citizen in the country and we are responsible for ensuring them a better quality of life”.
Mr. Talal al-Krenawi, mayor of Rahat, which is paying for a significant share of the cost of the pool, said “This is an important day for the residents of Rahat and for the Bedouin community as a whole. The Bedouin citizens seek to live in towns with public and recreational institutions, they want their children to enjoy complete equality of rights. We thank the ministers for joining forces in this important move”.