ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - The number of Ethiopians in need of emergency assistance has risen to 6.4 million, the charity Oxfam said Friday, warning of a disaster if donors did not respond. "The number of Ethiopians needing emergency assistance has leapt by 40 percent from 4.6 million to 6.4 million people since June," the British organisation said in a statement, quoting UN and Ethiopian government statistics. "At the same time cereal rations to those needing assistance have been reduced by a third because not enough food is reaching the country," it said, adding that according to the UN the total aid effort was currently under-funded to the tune of 260 million dollars. Ethiopia is Africa's second most populous country with around 80 million inhabitants and has been badly affected by droughts, civil conflict and rising food prices. "The revised numbers of those needing emergency assistance is likely to be a conservative estimate and does not include the 7.2 million Ethiopians so chronically poor that they receive cash or food aid from the government every year," Oxfam said.  "More can and must be done now to save lives and avert disaster," Oxfam's country director, Waleed Rauf, added in the statement. "We are seeing an absolutely significant mounting spiral," a spokeswoman for the United Nations humanitarian affairs bureau in Geneva (OCHA) said, warning of a further deterioration in the situation as the dry season progressed. "All these factors are making us extremely worried, as the dry season will soon progress," she added.