Conceptualizations of waste-related implications on health and welfare among elementary school students in the Negev’s Bedouin Arab community Academic Article uri icon


  • This study addresses the manner in which 4th–5th grade children from unrecognized Bedouin settlements in Israel’s Negev desert perceive waste and its effects on health and the environment, with an eye towards building a future model for their environmental education. These children participate in local practices with environmental repercussions, such as incinerating waste or collecting it for reuse and sale. These lead to injury, exposure to toxic chemicals and chronic disease. Understanding such dangers would not only help these children avoid future environmental and personal harm, but potentially allow them to influence the knowledge, affect and behavior of adults in their household as well. Data was collected by a combination of interviews and observations, with results divided into three main categories: knowledge, affect and behavior. We found that though waste is an integral part of the children’s domestic environment, their knowledge of it was only superficial, based in social and personal experience. In terms of affect, children’s reactions were ambiguous—demonstrating environmental responsibility whilst simultaneously describing a lack of interest towards environmental preservation. The children described several waste-related everyday behaviors: going to the valley to dump waste, burning or playing with it, making toys from discarded objects, and gathering metals, batteries, and bottles for sale. Together, the three aspects of this study reveal the extent and pervasiveness of waste’s impact on these children’s lives. They also highlight the areas that should be targeted in future environmental education if positive change is to be achieved.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014