In a world wracked by crises, some dominate global headlines. Others unfold quietly, building in the background until alarm bells are sounded.

The drought currently ravaging large swathes of Ethiopia falls into the latter category.

  • WATCH: Margaret Evans has more on the drought in Ethiopia Wednesday night on The National.

It's the worst drought the country has faced in 50 years, leaving Ethiopia teetering on the edge of a humanitarian crisis with more than 10 million people now in need of emergency food aid to survive. 

Mothers desperate to feed their children

The search for emergency rations is often most desperate for mothers eager to feed their young children.

This mother, along with hundreds of others, waited in the blistering sun for hours to register for a type of blended food used to fight against malnutrition.

Mother and baby wait for food aid in Dugda, Ethiopia

More than 400, 000 Ethiopian children are predicted to suffer from severe malnutrition this year. 

Mothers wait with babies at food distribution centre

In search of water 

The drought has meant that the battle for water has become a part of everyday life across much of Ethiopia.

People line up at a water point in eastern Ethiopia

The scarcity of water now forces shepherds to drive their herds over longer distances to find it—causing further hardship for themselves and their animals.  

Cattle search for water in Ethiopia

Zakriyas Ani Ibrahim stands beside a dry riverbed in Ethiopia's East Hararghe region. He says the river used to be powerful but now all that remains are a few puddles.

He says some children in the area have died due to starvation. 

Ethiopian labourers pray for rain

A race against time 

The drought has triggered a race against time to get more aid to Ethiopia.

Non-governmental organizations say they are worried that emergency supplies could run out if more donations aren't raised.

Some even warn that the number of people in need of emergency food aid could double to 20 million by June. 

Emergency food distribution in northern Ethiopia

Aid agencies and the Ethiopian government have launched an appeal for $1.4 billion USD but so far only about half of that money has been raised. 

Ethiopians pick up food aid at government aid centre

Canada provided more than $50 million in humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia in 2015.

This woman received her rations at a distribution site run, in part, by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a humanitarian organization based in Winnipeg.

A woman receives food aid in southern Ethiopia

Work for food 

The Ethiopian government has established work-for-food programs which are currently supporting approximately 7 million people across the country.

Men after working on desert irrigation project

This woman works on an irrigation project in the middle of a desert in eastern Ethiopia.

Woman poses for photo after working on desert irrigation project

Spectre of the past 

Megabe Sere'at Zenabu, 78, witnessed the calamity of the so-called Great Famine that killed an estimated one million Ethiopians in the early 1980s. 

He says today's drought is raising the spectre of a terrible past. 

Famine survivor reflects on the drought in Ethiopia

Drought-stricken childhood

It's estimated that at least half of the ten million people now in need of emergency rations across Ethiopia are children.

Ethiopian children in East Hararghe

The drought has also forced more than one million children to stop going to school so they can do more to help their families cope with the crisis, according to Save The Children.

Ethiopian girl carrying goods in basket

And it's a number only set to grow unless the rains comes. 

Young girl waits for food at emergency food station

All photos by CBC's Ellen Mauro