A worsening drought in Ethiopia means 10.1 million people, a 10th of the population, are facing food shortages next year in the Horn of Africa nation, Save the Children said.
The figure is an increase of 1.9 million people from the number the government says currently requires food aid. The assessment means 400,000 children are at risk of severe malnutrition in 2016, the London-based charity said in an e-mailed statement on Monday.
“The worst drought in Ethiopia for 50 years is happening right now, with the overall emergency response estimated to cost $1.4 billion,” said John Graham, Save the Children’s Ethiopia country director.
Ethiopia’s government has allocated $192 million for the crisis and received $163 million from donors since an appeal for $340 million in October, said Mitiku Kassa, who heads the government’s disaster response team.
Another 8 million vulnerable Ethiopians will receive food and cash transfers during the first six months of next year under a mostly donor-funded aid program.
Low rainfall this year had a “devastating effect” on agricultural production, with the next harvest not expected until June, the charity said. Ethiopia’s government has said the drought will not affect official growth rates of about 10 percent a year, despite rain-fed agriculture accounting for almost 40 percent of the economy.
(Updates with government comment in fourth paragraph.)