Rains are due to come next month, if that does happen the next harvest for the region is in early 2010. Until then, the millions of people in East Africa will have to depend on donations of food to survive.
From the New York Times, this Reuters piece relays OXFAM's statement on the emergency.
Launching a $9.5 million (6 million pounds) appeal, it said the situation was being worsened by high food prices and conflict. The most badly hit nations are Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda.
Malnutrition is now above emergency levels in some areas and hundreds of thousands of valuable cattle are dying.
"This is the worst humanitarian crisis Oxfam has seen in east Africa for over ten years," Paul Smith Lomas, Oxfam's East Africa Director, said in a statement.
He said failed and unpredictable rains were ever more common in the region, and that broader climate change meant wet seasons were becoming shorter. Droughts have increased from once a decade to every two or three years.
"In Wajir, northern Kenya, almost 200 dead animals were recently found around one dried-up water source," Lomas said.
"People are surviving on two litres of water a day in some places -- less water than a toilet flush. The conditions have never been so harsh or so inhospitable, and people desperately need our help to survive."
Some 3.8 million Kenyans, a tenth of the population, need emergency aid, Oxfam said, partly because food prices have risen to 180 percent above average.