Eden Abera's heart bleeds for her family back home in Ethiopia who frequently put up with intermittent power and water cuts on top of a severe food shortage.

Her brother does odd jobs to support his parents and the only asset the family, living in the capital Addis Ababa, have is a cow which they rely on for milk.

The mother of two, born and bred in Addis Ababa, moved from Dubai to Dargaville in January last year before shifting to Whangarei in May.

Ms Abera met her Kiwi husband Raymond Donald in Dubai where she worked as a housekeeper for six years.

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She told the Northern Advocate about the sobering news Ethiopia was in the grip of a devastating drought. Aid agencies are warning food aid could run out as soon as May if an additional US$700 million in international support is not secured.

Ms Abera said although she was born after the famines of 1973 and 1984, when hundreds of thousands starved to death and images of dying children appeared on the world's television screens, she was well-versed with the country's history of famine.

She used to send money back home while working in Dubai but that stopped after she moved to New Zealand.

Her dad is a retired civil servant and receives next to nothing in pension after tax.

"I feel sorry for them but at least they are alive," she said.

The situation for many in the impoverished African nation was dire.

"I know there were still places there that had no food and water back then. The situation for many hasn't improved since and if it doesn't rain later this year or early next year, food supply will be in serious jeopardy," she said.

"Even in the city where I grew up in, the situation was bad, with no power and water and everything was quite expensive."

Ms Abera is studying English at English Language Partners' Northland and volunteers at Whangarei Migrant Centre.

She would prefer to live in a district among fellow Ethiopeans, such as Auckland, but may stay put in Whangarei where she is making friends.

The Ethiopean government and aid groups have kept food shipments flowing to areas ravaged by drought in recent months. But they need more money at a time when international donors are dealing with a string of humanitarian disasters around the world.

In December, about 10.2 million people were in need of $1.4 billion in aid.