Child undernutrition is a major public health concern in Ethiopia (stunting national prevalence: 44%; wasting: 10%), despite the overall improvement in child health status during the last decade. Hundreds of small-scale surveys are conducted in Ethiopia’s emergency pockets under ENCU’s supervision. We reviewed the evidence from small-scale surveys conducted between 2008 and 2013 with two objectives: to provide a summary estimate of wasting prevalence from emergency pockets and to examine reasons for variation in prevalence estimates. We created a dataset by combining data from the Complex Emergency Database, the Famine Early Warning System Network and the Armed Conflict Location Event Data. We conducted a meta-analysis of small-scale surveys using a random effects model with known within-study heterogeneity. The influence of survey covariates on estimated prevalence was investigated with meta-regression techniques. We included 158 surveys in the analysis. A high degree of heterogeneity among surveys was observed. The overall estimate of wasting prevalence was 10.6% (95% CI 9.8–11.4), with differences among regions and between residents and refugees. Meta-regression results showed that vaccination coverage, child mortality, diarrhea prevalence and food insecurity are significantly associated with wasting prevalence. Child care and displacement status were not. Aggregated analysis of small-scale surveys provides insights into the prevalence of wasting and factors explaining its variation. It can also guide survey planning towards areas with limited data availability.