Johannesburg, February 1 Nearly one million children across eastern and southern Africa are suffering from “severe acute malnutrition” after two years of drought and the strongest El Nino in 50 years, UNICEF said today. Children in the region face worsening food and water shortages, with rising prices exacerbating the situation as families are forced to skip meals and sell belongings. “Severe acute malnutrition” is defined as extreme hunger, causing a very low weight-for-height ratio, visible wasting or fluid retention. “The El Nino weather phenomenon will wane, but the cost to children — many who were already living hand-to-mouth — will be felt for years to come,” said UNICEF regional director Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala. “Governments are responding with available resources, but this is an unprecedented situation. Children’s survival is dependent on action taken today.” The agency is running humanitarian appeals calling for $87 million for Ethiopia, $26 million for Angola and $15 million for Somalia.