The government, WFP and a group of charities such as Save the Children are working on the relief effort. Addis Abbaba is already spending about $300m (£208m) and other funds have come from the United States, Canada, European states and others. About $38m (£26m) was committed this week, the WFP said.
But more is needed when international aid budgets are stretched by crises such as the Syria conflict.
Unlike in 1984, whose drought led to the deaths of one million people, this time the Horn of Africa country is relatively stable and is at peace. But the El Nino weather phenomenon is even overwhelming government policies which have seen agriculture health and social programmes put in place.
Some experts say that the $1.4bn (£970m) to cover food relief may prove inadequate, after rains failed in 2015 and with the 2016 outlook unclear.
By Brendan Cole