Emergency food aid for the 10 million Ethiopians hit by the country's worst drought in 50 years will run out in April unless donors provide $245m (£169m) by the end of February, the charity Save the Children said. Without additional funds, there could be a "potentially catastrophic" escalation in severe acute malnutrition among children, it said, which means they are likely to die without therapeutic feeding.

Over 400,000 children will need urgent supplementary feeding, while 1.7m more children, and pregnant and lactating women, who are suffering from moderate-acute malnutrition are at risk of sliding into crisis if the food pipeline breaks down.

The El Niño weather phenomenon has caused drought and flooding across Africa, leaving more than 20 million short of food in the south of the continent and 14 million in the east, according to the UN. The people of Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country with a population of around 100 million, has been the worst effected.

In 1984 famine, triggered by war and drought, killed 1m people. Now the nation has one of Africa's fastest growing economies but the crisis is so large international aid is needed. Just under half of a $1.4bn (£960m) appeal by the government and aid partners has been funded, UN figures show.

More than 400,000 Ethiopians under five are predicted to suffer from severe malnutrition this year, with another 1m needing treatment for moderate malnutrition. It can take four months to buy and transport food aid into landlocked Ethiopia via neighbouring Djibouti's congested port.