Boundaries are said to make for better relationships among and between neighbors as is noted by the American poet, Robert Frost, who wrote in his poem “Mending Wall” (1914) that “good fences make good neighbors.” Both the Bethel Agricultural Association (BAA) and Bethel Environmental and Agricultural Association Ethiopia (BEAA) want to be good neighbors to everyone that is impacted by our project to develop an environmental and agricultural university and training center in Woliso, Ethiopia.
Fence construction on the project site commenced at the beginning of August 2020, but preparations for it started much earlier, including: purchasing construction materials, acquiring all the necessary permits, and hiring the workers. The fence construction was a very difficult task as it was done in the midst of the rainy season in Ethiopia and work was often halted because of weather. In addition, work was halted for a few weeks due to security issues in the Woliso area after a well-known singer in Ethiopia was killed.
The total length of the fence was 1.54 kilometers (0.96 miles) and was constructed to a height of 3 meters (9.8 Feet). A total of 919 holes were dug and poles inserted for construction of the frame. Then the chain-link fencing was attached to the poles along with two gates. In addition, two guardhouses were constructed near the gates and a storehouse was also constructed. The fence was basically completed by mid-August. Appreciation was extended to all involved, including the BEAA Board, Teddy Amuma, Dereje G. Meskel, the Woliso community elders and the Office of Walsio Woreda (Woreda or District is the third-level administrative divisions of government administrative structure in Ethiopia and the community as well).
The project created job opportunities for 965 farmers and jobless young people throughout the project. To support the area businesses during the Covid 19 pandemic and the rainy season, BEAA (with support from BAA) purchased free breakfasts and lunches for the workers from local restaurant owners who have been suffering as a result of the lockdown.
In addition, after the completion of the fencing project, the workers planted more than 1400 seedings (trees) and 92 apple seedlings at the project site. Currently, 75% of the tree seedlings and 98% of the apple seedlings have been successfully established.
The location of our project in Woliso (Waliso) is ideal for agricultural and environmental education, research, demonstration and extension. Plans for the construction of a guesthouse, the construction and development of an analytical chemistry laboratory and the development of a demonstration farm are already in place. Future plans will involve construction of academic buildings, a cafeteria, administration offices and dormitories.