El Nino causes worst drought in Ethiopia since 1980s when 400,000 died of famine and Bob Geldof launched Live Aid

Ethiopia is suffering from its worst drought since the mid-1980s when it led to a famine which claimed the lives of 400,000 people and spawned the famous Live Aid charity concerts.

For the second consecutive year rains have failed to materialise, leading to a widespread drought with eastern Ethiopia, close to the border with Somalia, worst affected.

The El Niño weather system, which has also triggered droughts in southern Sudan as well as in the United States, Indonesia and several other countries, is being blamed for the crisis in Ethiopia.

The elderly and young mothers are among the hardest hit by the drought. Many Ethiopians have no memory of the catastrophic drought and famine which ravaged their country between 1983 and 1985

The elderly and young mothers are among the hardest hit by the drought. Many Ethiopians have no memory of the catastrophic drought and famine which ravaged their country between 1983 and 1985

Seasonal rains in Ethiopia have failed for two years running with El Nino being blamed. Rivers have dried up, crops have wilted and died and much of the country's cattle has died

Seasonal rains in Ethiopia have failed for two years running with El Nino being blamed. Rivers have dried up, crops have wilted and died and much of the country’s cattle has died

Assia (pictured) helps her mother fetch water from a lake miles from their home in Keluwa, eastern Ethiopia. The water is not be drinkable unless it is treated

Assia (pictured) helps her mother fetch water from a lake miles from their home in Keluwa, eastern Ethiopia. The water is not be drinkable unless it is treated

A crocodile's skeleton on the bed of what was once a lake at Afambo show just how bad the drought is in the Afar region of north eastern Ethiopia

A crocodile’s skeleton on the bed of what was once a lake at Afambo show just how bad the drought is in the Afar region of north eastern Ethiopia

Ethiopia's economy is much stronger than it was 30 years ago which means it is able to provide food to support those affected by the drought. But babies and old people are still vulnerable 

Ethiopia’s economy is much stronger than it was 30 years ago which means it is able to provide food to support those affected by the drought. But babies and old people are still vulnerable

More than 10 million Ethiopians, including six million children, are now in need of emergency aid after crops failed and livestock is also at risk.

In the last decade Ethiopia’s economy has been the fastest growing in the whole world so the country is not the basket case it was between 1983 and 1985 when the failure of rains led to the deaths of thousands from famine.

Eastern Ethiopia, between the capital Addis Ababa and neighbouring Djibouti, is the worst affected part of the country.

These women have dug down three metres below the bed of a dried-out river to find water. They lift it out of the makeshift well and fill up the yellow plastic barrels which they often carry for miles back to their families 

These women have dug down three metres below the bed of a dried-out river to find water. They lift it out of the makeshift well and fill up the yellow plastic barrels which they often carry for miles back to their families

The drought is placing a massive burden on Ethiopian women, particularly those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. They often have to walk long distances to find water for their families

The drought is placing a massive burden on Ethiopian women, particularly those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. They often have to walk long distances to find water for their families

Around 430,000 children are suffering from severe malnutrition in Ethiopia and millions more are at risk after rains failed to materialise for two years running

Around 430,000 children are suffering from severe malnutrition in Ethiopia and millions more are at risk after rains failed to materialise for two years running

The drought and famine in Ethiopia was headline news in December 1984 (pictured) and £145m was raised by the Live Aid charity effort

The drought and famine in Ethiopia was headline news in December 1984 (pictured) and £145m was raised by the Live Aid charity effort

Streams, rivers and even some lakes have dried up, hundreds of thousands of livestock have died and malnutrition is at alarming levels.

The women are probably suffering the most because they are the ones being sent out to walk up to 12 hours a day under the burning sun to find water, fill water barrels and bring it back to their villages.

They are taking water from shrivelled rivers and lakes and boreholes dug by the government.

But sometimes they themselves dig up to three metres down to find an aquifer.

Most of the water they are using is untreated and can cause serious diseases for their families.

The drought is putting a massive burden on the elderly as well as pregnant women and those who are trying to breastfeed.

Many Ethiopians have abandoned their villages and are living nomadically, travelling from one water source to the next.

Thousands of children have disappeared from school as a result.

The Ethiopian government is working closely with United Nations agencies and international aid organisations but it says it is a long way short of the £1billion it needs to deal with the crisis.

In the mid-1980s the situation was exacerbated by the policies of the left-wing regime, known as The Dergue, which had overthrown Emperor Haile Selassie 10 years earlier.

The Dergue’s leader Colonel Mengistu ruled until 1991 when he was overthrown by rebels and fled into exile in Zimbabwe.

The rebels restored democracy and under President Meles Zenawi improved the country’s economy enormously.

He died in 2012 but the country is still performing well economically and has seen massive inward investment, especially from China.

Last year a new railway was opened from Addis Ababa to the Red Sea port of Djibouti and this line is a key to supplying famine aid to the drought-hit region through which it passes.

Ironically Ethiopia is in the middle of building a huge dam on the river Nile.

The £2.9bn Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – mostly funded by Ethiopian taxpayers – is being built in the Benishangul region on the border with Sudan and will provide the country with hydro-electric power.

But countries like Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream, fear it will restrict the flow of water down the Nile.

Ethiopia insists the dam will not affect the flow of the Nile and says it is not planning to use the water from the huge reservoir to alleviate future droughts.

A child sits alone in a classroom in eastern Ethiopia. The drought has forced many families to uproot and move in search of water and this has led to many children dropping out of school

A child sits alone in a classroom in eastern Ethiopia. The drought has forced many families to uproot and move in search of water and this has led to many children dropping out of school

A woman breastfeeds her baby as her other children gaze into the distance. Parents are having to ration the water they give to their children

A woman breastfeeds her baby as her other children gaze into the distance. Parents are having to ration the water they give to their children

Cattle are pictured drinking from a stream. This was the first rain water which had fallen in the area since the beginning of the year

Cattle are pictured drinking from a stream. This was the first rain water which had fallen in the area since the beginning of the year

This family have decided to up sticks and move to another area where they hope to find water. They have brought with them their trusty camels, which famously can exist on little or no water

This family have decided to up sticks and move to another area where they hope to find water. They have brought with them their trusty camels, which famously can exist on little or no water

Ethiopia's economy has grown exponentially in the last decade but much of the country is still reliant on agriculture and, as a result, on rainfall. And for two years running it has failed to materialise 

Ethiopia’s economy has grown exponentially in the last decade but much of the country is still reliant on agriculture and, as a result, on rainfall. And for two years running it has failed to materialise

The burden of foraging for water and also fetching food and firewood falls to the women as the menfolk are busy trying to keep alive their livestock. The fields of much of Ethiopia are arid and parched

The burden of foraging for water and also fetching food and firewood falls to the women as the menfolk are busy trying to keep alive their livestock. The fields of much of Ethiopia are arid and parched

Farah (pictured) has just loaded up with water from a shrunken lake and is now setting off on an eight mile walk back to her home

Farah (pictured) has just loaded up with water from a shrunken lake and is now setting off on an eight mile walk back to her home

Three days before this photograph was taken it had rained for 30 minutes. It was the first rain they had had in the Keluwa district of Afar region all year. Local people were grateful for the water, even if it was not potable

Three days before this photograph was taken it had rained for 30 minutes. It was the first rain they had had in the Keluwa district of Afar region all year. Local people were grateful for the water, even if it was not potable

A boy sits on bags of food aid which has been brought to the Afar region by the Ethiopian government, which is working closely with the UN and international aid agencies to prevent a repeat of the famine of 1983-85

A boy sits on bags of food aid which has been brought to the Afar region by the Ethiopian government, which is working closely with the UN and international aid agencies to prevent a repeat of the famine of 1983-85

With some flour which has been supplied by the government, Aisha is able to bake some bread for her family on a rudimentary oven. It will keep them from starvation but it is a bare existence

With some flour which has been supplied by the government, Aisha is able to bake some bread for her family on a rudimentary oven. It will keep them from starvation but it is a bare existence

Goats are fairly hardy animals who famously eat virtually anything but the drought has been hard for them too. Around a million animals - goats, sheep and cattle - have died since the drought began

Goats are fairly hardy animals who famously eat virtually anything but the drought has been hard for them too. Around a million animals – goats, sheep and cattle – have died since the drought began

El Nino has been blamed for the drought which has hit Ethiopia this year. Sudan, Indonesia and parts of the United States have also suffered significant drops in rainfall in the last two years

El Nino has been blamed for the drought which has hit Ethiopia this year. Sudan, Indonesia and parts of the United States have also suffered significant drops in rainfall in the last two years

Some people have despaired of life in the countryside and have moved to cities like Addis Ababa, and some have inevitably joined the migrant waves heading to Europe. But these men are determined to stick it out in the hope of better times ahead

Some people have despaired of life in the countryside and have moved to cities like Addis Ababa, and some have inevitably joined the migrant waves heading to Europe. But these men are determined to stick it out in the hope of better times ahead