This week I traveled with Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden to refugee camps in eastern Kenya along the Somali border to witness the impact of the most acute food security emergency on earth. We need your help, and your help I promise will make a difference.

Yesterday we visited intake centers just on the border where over 1,500 Somalis who walked for weeks with their starving children (over 29,000 young children have died of malnutrition and disease in Somalia alone over the past 90 days) arrive each day to find food and a safe place to live. But the camps are at capacity (the Dadaab camp has 430,000 refugees today; it was designed for 90,000) and new arrivals are left to fend for themselves on the outskirts of the camp.
Over 29,000 young children have died of malnutrition and disease in Somalia over the past 90 days. We are now on our way to the Horn of Africa to see what more we as a nation can do.

Early this morning, our plane left Washington DC bound for East Africa. I’m flying with Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and USAID Administrator Raj Shah to study the famine affecting the lives of over 12 million people, many of them children.

In fact, it is now being called “The Children’s Famine.”
When thinking about public health in the developed world, we generally think about preventing chronic disease through behavior change. However, in Mshenguville (the informal settlement/shack town in Munsieville), the public health needs are drastically different and much more basic. One of the key issues in Mshenguville is the need for basic sanitation/waste management. Illegal dumping around various sites in Mshenguville occurs because people do not think that there other alternatives and do not understand the consequences of poor sanitation.

by Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

The numbers are staggering. Over 12 million people are reported to be in dire need of food and clean water. And more continue to trickle in daily to the refugee camps. Somalia has seen famines before, but this is said to be the worst. Perhaps the greatest crisis of the decade.

Today, Mohammad Ibrahim writes about the emergency in the NYT, "Somalis Waste Away as Insurgents Block Escape from Famine."

It is an extremely complex and difficult situation. Aid agencies are having trouble getting into and providing care for the most vunerable. Governmental funding is especially and desperately needed to avert the loss of millions of lives. 

How can you help? For starters, support Save the Children.

East Africa Drought and Food Crisis: A dollar a day for 100 days can help us keep a child alive. Give online at www.savethechildren.org/food-crisis-6 or text "SURVIVE" to 20222 to donate $10 (Standard message rates apply)

Recommended Reading: "Global Food Crisis Takes Heavy Toll in East Africa," by Samuel Loewenberg, in The Lancet.

Since my last post, I have been very, very busy! First, the skin cancer prevention program I’m developing is really coming together. At this point, I have developed two of the four modules, completed a formal recording of “Sabrina’s Story,” a local melanoma survivor’s story, with the help of ETSU’s Communications Department, and scheduled meetings with each of our region’s eight county Health Councils as a way of disseminating the program once it’s complete. As I will be collecting baseline and posttest data from 135 students at David Crockett High School, the pilot site for the program, I will also begin the IRB (Institutional Review Board) application and approval process very soon.
On Thursday July 14th, 74 individuals came together and made the decision to change their lives and end hunger, malnutrition, and poverty in Munsieville , South Africa by planting gardens. Many families in Munsieville struggle to have a well-balanced meal every day and building gardens will create a sustainable way to ensure that individuals do not have to go hungry. Further, vegetable gardens will help to fight malnutrition in the children of Munsieville. According to the World Health organization, malnutrition contributes to more than one third of all child deaths and can occur due to offering the wrong foods, inadequate breast feeding, and not ensuring that the child receives enough nutritious foods1. The people of Munsieville are going back to the soil to make sure their children and families are adequately fed and nourished.

Brad Paisley talks about the importance of clean water for the 1 out of 7 people around the world who lacks access. Please join our Water=Hope campaign today at WaterEqualsHope.org. Donate $10 by texting H2O to 25383; you will receive a confirmation, reply YES. It really is that simple!

During the past month and a half, I have been working and an intern with the Boone Watershed Partnership, Inc. (BWP) a non-profit organization currently in the process of performing restoration projects on two creeks, Sinking Creek and Gap Creek. Sinking Creek is mainly located within Johnson City, while Gap Creek is located mainly in Elizabethton. Both creeks are an essential asset to these two Appalachian communities. Both of these creeks are on the 303(d) list, meaning that they are not capable of sustaining life. Sinking Creek has been put on the list due to E.Coli pollution, while Gap Creek’s main problem is sediment.

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