On this World Habitat Day 2022, the USAID Environmental Restoration of the Aral Sea Activity (ERAS) would like to endorse this year’s theme, “Mind the Gap, Leave No One and Place Behind.” At our Aral Sea “Oasis,” we are working to find solutions to revive and restore the ecosystem in this desertified region. Years of unsustainable water use for agriculture devastated the Aral Sea and the near-complete disappearance of this impressive lake has given way to sand and dust storms that negatively impact human health, forcing many people to leave their homes.At the request of the Government of Kazakhstan, in 2021, USAID began testing the viability of black saxaul at a demonstration site approximately 200 kilometers from the city of Aralsk in western Kazakhstan. Black saxaul is a hardy shrub, able to thrive in low water and high heat. More importantly, the shrub is an important “edificator,” meaning it provides shade and cover for animal and other plants. Also, research has found that one saxaul plant “once mature, can hold up to four tons of sand,” thus offering a strong defense in the quest to mitigate sandstorms in the region.cThese qualities could make black saxaul a suitable choice for setting the foundation for Aral Sea restoration. Over the next two years, USAID will continue to plant the shrub under four different test conditions on 30 five-hectare plots to help determine the most ideal conditions and practices necessary to ensure optimal growth.So, on this World Habitat Day, we join the global call to “Mind the Gap, Leave No One or Place Behind” and steady our commitment to restoring the natural wonder of the Aral Sea and creating improved lives for all people in the region.