The Negev 2020 Plan

KKL-JNF’s integrated vision of a Negev that preserves Israel's open spaces, provides a high quality environment and combines many different cultures and lifestyles – in short – the Israel of tomorrow!

What is the Negev 2020 Plan?

The Israeli government views the development of the Negev as a national priority and has acted and continues to act to make this vision a reality.

The latest development plan for the Negev has been prepared by the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee and covers the period 2010-2020.

As always, KKL-JNF plays a major role in the development of the Negev, providing our unique environmental input to ensure that this very special region, while growing and developing, preserves its distinct desert ecosystem.

The government determined a number of targets to be achieved by 2020:
  • Bring in 300,000 new people to the Negev;
  • Ensuring employment for an additional 200,000 people in the Negev;
  • Focusing on technological and scientific education, emphasizing quality and excellence and increasing the availability of higher education and developing extracurricular educational opportunities;
  • Creating diverse recreational and cultural opportunities for the benefit of the people of the Negev.
Michmash. Photo: Yoav Devir

Things Happening Now

Things are already happening in the Negev. New communities such as Karmit, Shlomit, Eliav, Naveh and Bene Netsarim have been established. In some existing communities such as Dimona, Yeroham and Metar, real estate values are rising and housing is in great demand.
KKL-JNF is extensively involved with these communities: building infrastructure, developing parks, landscaping and other activities in our fields of expertise.

Between 2008 and 2011 the population of the Negev increased by 32,000.
Some of the major projects now underway in the Negev include:
  • The relocation of all the IDF bases to the Negev, a move which will eventually increase the population in the area by some 80,000 people and provide many more employment opportunities.
  • Student villages – students studying in Negev institutes of higher education live together in existing communities. These highly motivated students are actively involved in community life and will become the potential basis for new settlement in the Negev.
  • Groups of young adults (post army/national service), are settling in peripheral urban communities.
  • Development of a new high-tech park in Be’er Sheva is now underway and will provide thousands of new jobs.
  • Continued development of the Nahal Be’er Sheva Park, in which KKL-JNF is a major partner.
  • A technological institute for studying renewable energy technologies was established to support initiatives for developing alternative energy sources.
  • Transportation to and from the Negev has improved: The Cross-Israel Highway has been extended, shortening the trip to and from the area significantly.
  • Government subsidies for low-cost housing in existing communities that will grow stronger thanks to the influx of young, highly motivated, well educated people.
  • The government is reviewing alternative implementations of the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal.

A number of projects focus on the Bedouin population:

  • Signing the charter for the Wadi Atir ecological farming community. Photo: Yoav Devir
  • A program for excellence in the Bedouin educational system encourages outstanding students and helps them become established in academic programs. Some 1000 secondary school students from eight Bedouin communities participate in this program, which began in 2011.
  • A special education campus for Bedouin children with special needs was established in the Negev in 2012. The campus will provide education and rehabilitation for 600 children and adolescents as well as offering diverse employment opportunities to the local population.
  • There are two employment centers in the Bedouin towns of Hura and Segev Shalom and another one is being planned for Rahat.
  • KKL-JNF is partnering with the Negev Bedouin community to develop environmental, tourism and educational programs for the benefit of the Bedouin in the Negev.

Desert Forestry

KKL-JNF, historically committed to strengthening the ties between people and the land, has been developing Israel's forest resources and leading successful efforts to ensure the legislative protection of open spaces. We plant new forests and manage existing ones, tend native woodlands and restore ancient orchards and we combat desertification.

Once, we believed in "greening" the Negev – today, we are world renowned experts in savannization, or dry land afforestation – in creating a fertile desert while at the same time preserving the unique desert ecosystem. We plant single trees or clusters of trees in areas where climatic conditions do not permit woodlands or shrubs to grow without substantial human intervention. Their growth relies on advanced water harvesting techniques that capture runoff rainwater in ridges, depressions, terraces and limans (tree clusters planted in micro-catchments).
Photo: Tania Susskind

Water Management

The lack of high-quality water is one of the critical environmental challenges facing Israel and the world. Years of drought have deprived our natural water sources of sufficient replenishment, while a growing population and a rising standard of living have led to a sharp increase in consumption. For more than three decades, KKL-JNF has partnered with Israel's water agencies and local authorities to increase water availability, building dams to harvest floodwaters and water management facilities to store floodwater and treated wastewater, thus stretching Israel’s water supply at these times of water crises.

In the Negev, Israel’s water problem is even more severe as a result of the desert climate. KKL-JNF has built 76 water treatment facilities in the Negev for harvesting floodwaters and storing recycled water pumped in from northern Israel. The water is used to irrigate crops in the Negev, the Arava and forestry projects.
Tifrach Water Reservoir. Photo: Yoav Devir

Community Development

Throughout its history, KKL-JNF has been vital in the establishment and development of over 1000 communities all over Israel. Today, it continues to play a central role in creating and supporting veteran and new communities alike. Community development is much more than creating the physical base for housing. It is about enhancing economic viability by creating opportunities for employment and farming for the people in the Negev and improving quality of life by creating urban and rural parks.

The high population density in the center of the country and the accompanying strain it places on public services, quality of life and the environment, has led the government of Israel to declare the development of Israel's northern and southern regions to be one of its highest priorities. KKL-JNF plays a major and varied role in this endeavor, working together with the OR Movement to expand existing communities and develop new ones in the Negev. It is also active in the Negev’s Bedouin towns, improving quality of life with various landscaping and recreational development projects.
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive


KKL-JNF continues to lead the quest for a better and healthier environment – with large open spaces, green forests and recreation areas, and respect for the natural and cultural heritage of our country.

In the Negev, our work is particularly complex and as varied as the desert environment. The fragile desert ecosystem requires a gentle hand and an open mind for development to succeed, while still preserving this special region. One of the major challenges we face is erosion, which causes damage to the fragile desert landscape and harms its unique plants and wildlife.

KKL-JNF is actively involved in soil erosion control in many parts of the Negev, research regarding carbon sequestration, developing alternative energy sources (solar panels on KKL-JNF reservoirs, sewage treatment facilities and the plans for the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal).
Birds at the edge of Yatir Forest. Photo: Yoav Devir


KKL-JNF’s educational programs are very popular in Israel and play a major role in improving the educational system in peripheral areas. Thanks to these programs young people learn to know and appreciate their environment and their heritage. We are particularly active in the Negev with young people from Israel (Jews and Bedouins) and abroad, acquainting them with the area and emphasizing its preservation.
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Tourism & Recreation

Israel has a wealth of tourist sites that attract millions of visitors. The Negev has Israel's only concentration of large open spaces – wilderness areas – where large mammals and unique birds make their home. It also has beautiful oases – patches of green in the stark desert in addition to many fascinating archaeological sites.

At KKL-JNF, we take advantage of these unique Negev features to develop and support tourism and tourist-related ventures for the benefit of the people of the area. We make an effort to ensure that as many projects as possible are accessible to people with disabilities.
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Research & Development

At KKL-JNF we support research, both in Israel and worldwide, on ways to make arid areas more habitable and productive, thus halting and even reversing desertification. The development of innovative water-harvesting techniques has enabled KKL-JNF to share this knowledge and create a positive global impact.

Thanks to KKL-JNF-supported R&D stations throughout the Negev, agriculture in the region is one of the most advanced in the world. These stations create means of production that exploit the natural potential of peripheral regions: solar energy, climate, soil, water sources and manpower quality. KKL-JNF is an active partner in the International Arid Lands Consortium, which studies ways and means to prevent desertification and develop new farming methods for arid and semi-arid areas and shares this knowledge with partners in other countries far and near. We also work closely with academic institutions in Israel supporting research projects with global implications, such as the Weizmann Institute project in the Yatir Forest.

Were David Ben-Gurion alive today he would be proud of us. All over the world, in arid and semi-arid countries, desertification is a pressing problem as a result of over-exploitation, a process which is exacerbated by climatic changes. KKL-JNF is helping us and the world solve these issues.
Tomatoes grown in the desert. Photo: Yoav Devir