By SHARON UDASIN 10/05/2014

Umm Batin residents recently recieved machines that convert kitchen waste and animal manure into usable cooking gas and liquid fertilizer.

Beduin residents of Umm Batin, a village just northeast of Beersheba, are transforming their trash into usable cooking gas in their homes, as part of an Environmental Protection Ministry initiative to bring biogas to their community.

About a week ago, Umm Batin residents received HomeBioGas units produced by Ecogas Israel, whose NIS 8,000 apiece price tag was subsidized by the Environment Ministry. Anaerobic digesters within the machines convert kitchen waste and animal manure into usable cooking gas and liquid fertilizer – optimized for off-grid urban and rural families, according to the company.

Installing the HomeBioGas systems is part of a larger, NIS 80 million investment that the ministry has undertaken to provide communities that currently do not have modern waste treatment mechanisms with trash cans and other necessities.

The first village selected to receive the HomeBioGas systems was Umm Batin, a town recognized since the establishment of the State of Israel, but which to this day had not received proper waste collection for its citizens, the ministry said.

After learning from the Israeli government about the installation of the units in Umm Batin, the Dominican Republic has decided to purchase 50 of these facilities to install in villages in its own island, the ministry said. Following the earthquake that devastated much of Haiti, the phenomenon of deforestation grew in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, due to the need for wood heating.

Based on the results of the 50-unit pilot program, the Caribbean island will decide whether to purchase more HomeBioGas units, the ministry said. Last week, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz met with the Dominican energy and mining minister, Pelegrin Castillo, during which Peretz presented the idea of integrating the biogas production facilities to solve their deforestation issues.

“The combination of social justice and environmental justice is a global solution fitting for Umm Batin, for the Caribbean and for every place in the world,” Peretz said. “We found a way to generate cooperation with the Beduin population from remote communities who feel that as a result of this, the country cares about them, and therefore, the chances are great that this project will succeed and become a model for the world.”