Up to 15 million people are estimated to live in hunger in the world's least developed country, Niger. Charities Save the Children and Oxfam predict that 400,000 of the country’s children are at risk of dying of starvation.
Today reporter Mike Thomson visited an emergency treatment clinic for under fives near Maradi, in Southern Niger. Abiou, who is just 13 months old, weighs less than four and a half kilos
Doctor Mourou Arouna Djimba who runs the centre says he is overwhelmed by the number of desperate children. "We've so little room that sometimes we need to put two or even three children in one bed."
Drought, crop failure and soaring food prices which have left many people unable to afford even staple grains like millet. Save The Children's Ibrahim Fall describes the situation as a 'silent' crisis.
In the isolated village of Makanga, Musa HajHaroon, a village elder, says "the only asset I've got is my livestock... if the rains fail this year everyone will go and this will become a deserted village".
Many families are too weak to make the long journey to the emergency clinics. Hani made the trip in 2005, and has lost 5 of her 8 children. "At one point I thought we were all going to die on the road... I had no alternative."
But high prices mean there is little refuge for those who flee here, and beggars swell the city’s streets. The UN's Head of Coordination in Niger, Khardiata Lo Ndiaye, warns that the aid shortfall grows more serious every day.
"The magnitude of this crisis has not been seen before. The severity of this crisis is also far beyond what we have seen before. If we respond now we can handle the situation but each day counts. Money is needed now to save lives."