Poor rains have left millions of people in Niger facing major food shortages. The UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes arrived in the country on Monday to see the situation at first hand. He warned the crisis is only just beginning.
Only a small part of Niger has fertile soils and arable land - most of the country is in the Sahara Desert.
There is little food in the markets. Niger's "hungry season" between harvests usually lasts from May to July, but this year it started in February.
The granaries are almost empty.
Leaves with the bitterest taste are only eaten as a last resort during the hungry season. But this year people have already started eating them, says Rheal Drisdelle, director of Plan International in Niger.
Another sign the hungry season has arrived early is when youngsters are sent out by their families to find work.
Drought has prevented millet plants from forming grains and the stalks and leaves are all that remain.
"It will be women and women who are alone with children. These will be the first victims of this crisis, this is undeniable," says Rheal Drisdelle. (Photos by Plan International)
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