Landscape restoration around Aral Sea in Central Asia

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NETICS and Witteveen+Bos have won the Global Disruptive Tech Challenge 2021 for landscape restoration in the Aral Sea region of Central Asia. They were named winners in the Agriculture and Land Management category for their proposal for transforming salty lands into rich agricultural landscapes using NETICS’ patented GEOWALL land cultivation technology.

The Aral Sea, once the world’s fourth-largest inland body of water, has almost disappeared due to overuse of resources and the climate crisis, threatening the livelihoods of 40 million people living in the region.

The Global Disruptive Tech Challenge 2021 was aimed at identifying and supporting disruptive technologies and innovative approaches to landscape restoration in the Aral Sea region and in Central Asia. The challenge invited innovators from around the world to submit their ideas and help change the lives of millions of people. Spread across the challenge’s four categories, a total of 159 proposals were received from 38 countries on 5 continents.


The proposal of NETICS and Witteveen+Bos involves dredging sediment from the Aral Sea and mixing it with soil and a natural binder. A layer of this mixture is then applied to the soil to be cultivated. The leached nutrients contained in the sediment create fertile soil, as does the rainwater absorbed and stored in the mixture. Witteveen+Bos’s contribution focused on preparing the business case, with proposals – based on the local conditions – for the crops to be grown and the costs and returns to be applied.

The Global Disruptive Tech Challenge 2021 was organised with the support of the Central Asia Water and Energy Program (CAWEP), a multi-donor trust fund financed by the European Union, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The challenge was administered by the World Bank and will inform the Resilient Landscape Program in Central Asia (RESILAND CA+), currently being prepared. It was conducted by the Kazakh-German University (DKU), the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) and Plug and Play (P&P).

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