Most people may never have heard of Waliso, also written Woliso or Wolisso, but three Wooster races aim to raise money for the South Ethiopian community in the name of sustainable agriculture.

The Bethel Agriculture Association will hold a 5k and a 10k on Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Secrest Arboretum and the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute.

Warren Dick, the president and director of Bethel Agriculture, organized Running for Agricultural Resilience in Africa in hopes of raising $ 25,000 for the construction of two buildings in the Ethiopian city.

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“We want to build four buildings on the property, but these two will be built with donations from this race,” said Dick.

The buildings will include a guest room, computer and reading room, kitchen and dining area. The rooms will be designed for international workers and local community members who need the space.

Land for an office building and analytical laboratory has already been acquired and is being funded elsewhere, Dick said.

Sustainable agriculture

While Dick said Waliso was spared the worst civil war between the Ethiopian government and the armed forces in Tigray, the region has seen a lot in terms of drought, floods and locusts.

This has sometimes culminated in famine and regions with no food or clean water, he said.

Dick and Bethel Agriculture aim to educate Waliso residents about how to best manage the land and produce food for their community in a sustainable and effective way.

“Ethiopia is currently the worst case scenario for food security in the world,” said Dick, who has visited the East African country several times. “It is good to distribute food, but our project is to help the people of Ethiopia develop their own food production system.”

The site on which the buildings will be erected will serve as an agricultural extension, similar to the OSU extension in Wayne County.

Aim to create a self-sustaining industry

Once built, Dick aims to create a self-sustaining industry that doesn’t rely too heavily on food donations, if at all.

Climate change is another factor affecting food production in the region, he said.

“The rapid population growth in Ethiopia, the scarcity of land and a changing climate have put increasing pressure on the land, especially in the highlands, which comprise 95% of the country’s cultivated land”, The Bethel Agriculture Association website reads.

Not only do Dick and his team hope to create a better farming system and educate people, but they also want to mitigate the impact of agriculture on climate change on a global and local level.

Anyone who wants to take part in the 5k and 10k can register or sponsor a participant at MidOhioRaceManagement.com.

Contact Bryce at bbuyakie@gannett.com

On twitter: @Bryce_Buyakie