Leading charities say Ethiopia is suffering its worst drought in 50 years and it's a race against time to avert a famine like the one in the 1980s.
More than ten million people -- a tenth of Ethiopia's population -- require emergency food aid.
It's a journey you make only in utter desperation.
Trekking four hours across the burning desert to find help for your son, because Mohammed is sick and starving.
The red measure on his puny arm tells us he is dangerously malnourished.
"We have nothing to feed him at home, his mother Asli tells me. He has a fever. I don't know what else to do. I am very worried for him," says his mother.
At one remote clinic, they're finding 25 severely malnourished children every week. Babies like Dohra - 12 months old and consumed by hunger.
Like so many vulnerable to a host of potentially fatal diseases.
No one will officially say how many deaths might be blamed on the drought -- but everyone agrees that without help, there would be more.
In no nation on earth can the word drought have such dreadful resonance.
We travelled through a world of heat and dust. The rains that should green this land have failed for two long years.
Village chairman Ali Tiba remembers the murderous famine of 30 years ago.
''This time with help we will survive," he says," but on our own this land you see would be one big graveyard."
For the essentials that make life possible -- these people must now rely on the world outside; for even the water delivered to the village.
And so, catastrophe has so far been avoided -- though for Mohammed and many more thousands of children, the crisis has not yet passed.