The United States has begun to store food supplies in Ethiopia to deal with a potential famine situation there, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday.
"We would not like to get into a crisis situation, and though we don't know for certain there will be, there is certainly something looming," Rice said.
She spoke at a hearing of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.
Rice suggested Ethiopian authorities have been somewhat complacent about the situation.
US officials, she said, have been trying to get the government "to be responsive to what may be a humanitarian problem it has had trouble seeing".