More than 185 000 children are suffering from the most severe form of undernourishment as the rate of malnutrition soars in eastern and southern Ethiopia.
"More than one million people are in need of urgent nutritional assistance in Somali, Oromia, SNNP and South-West regions," save the children, an NGO said in a statement on Thursday.
These regions cover the entire south-eastern quarter and a large part of the south-western quarter of the country, the second-most populous in Africa with 120 million inhabitants.
In the Somali region, one of the most affected by the drought that is ravaging the Horn of Africa and where rain has hardly fallen for more than 18 months, the malnutrition rate has jumped by 64% in one year, and by 43% between January and April 2022 alone, according to the NGO.
During this period, more than 50,000 cases of severe acute malnutrition, the most serious and deadly form of malnutrition among children, which requires emergency treatment to prevent death, were recorded, the statement added.
In this region, the bulk of the nomadic pastoralist community in the Dawa administrative zone is "on the verge of starvation", warns Save The Children, which reports that "families report that many children are now receiving only one meal a day".
Save The Children expects "extreme malnutrition to worsen in the coming months" as the livestock of the mainly pastoral population in the affected areas have been decimated.
For nearly two years, the "longest drought in recent history" has ravaged the Horn of Africa, threatening part of its population with starvation, according to Ocha, the UN humanitarian agency.
Large parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have just experienced a fourth rainy season - there are two a year - with almost no rainfall. This latest rainy season - between March and May - is expected to be "the driest on record", according to Ocha.
The drought is affecting an estimated 8.1 million people in Ethiopia, where the weather conditions are compounded by conflict, particularly in the north. In total, "across the country, 30 million people - a quarter of the population - including 12 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance," according to Save The Children.