Most people might not have heard of Waliso, also spelt Woliso or Wolisso, but three Wooster races aim to raise money for the south Ethiopian community in the name of sustainable agriculture.
Bethel Agriculture Association will hold a 5k and a 10k at 9 a.m. Saturday at Secrest Arboretum and Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute.
Warren Dick, the president and director of Bethel Agriculture, organized Running for Agricultural Resilience in Africa in the hopes of raising $25,000 to construct two buildings in the Ethiopian city.
“We want to build four buildings on the property, but these two will be built using donations from this race,” Dick said.
The buildings will include a guest room, computer and reading room and a kitchen and dining area. The rooms will be for international workers and local community members who need the space.
Sites for an office building and analytical laboratory already have been acquired and will be funded through other means, Dick said.
While Dick said Waliso was spared the worst of the civil war between the Ethiopian government and the forces in Tigray, the region has experienced much in the way drought, flooding and locusts.
At times this has culminated in starvation and regions going without food or clean water, he said.
Dick and Bethel Agriculture aim to educate residents of Waliso on how to best cultivate the land and produce food for their community in a sustainable and effective way.
“Ethiopia, right now, is the worst case for food security in the world,” said Dick, who has visited the East African nation numerous times. “It’s good to give out food, but our project is to help the people in Ethiopia develop their own food production system.”
The site where the buildings will be constructed will act as an agriculture extension, similar to the OSU Extension in Wayne County.
Once built, Dick wants to create a self-sustaining industry that doesn’t rely too much on food donations, if at all.
Climate change is another factor that affects food production in the region, he said.
“The rapid increase in Ethiopia’s population, along with land scarcity and a changing climate, has led to growing pressure on the land, particularly in the highlands, which have 95% of the country’s cultivated land,” the Bethel Agriculture Association website reads.
Not only does Dick and his team hope to create a better agriculture system and educate people, but he also wants to mitigate the effects agriculture has on climate change, both on the global and local levels.
Anyone who wants to participate in the 5k and 10k can sign up or sponsor any participant at MidOhioRaceManagement.com.
The Daily Record