The United Nations is prepared to support Niger to organise free and transparent elections next year, a UN delegation to the country said. Mr. Abderahamane Niang, who has just led a UN mission to Niger to evaluate its electoral needs, met with all the political stakeholders during the visit.

Souréba, 3, is as light as a bird. Resting on her mother’s knee, the little girl seems indifferent to the noises and movements around her. When her mother, Habsatou, tries to give her some therapeutic food on her finger, the child turns away from the brown milky mixture. She is emaciated and has lost her appetite.

On World Day Against Child Labour 2010 on Saturday 12th June, leading NGO Plan International is concerned the problem is on the increase in Niger where children are being forced to work because of the food crisis. Children are being pulled out of school and sent to work for money or food to supplement their family's income.

Food insecurity and livelihoods have been compounded by a critical lack of water in the worst-hit southern province of Zinder. "The women with whom I've spoken in villages have said water is their first problem," UN Under-Secretary General John Holmes told journalists during a visit to Zinder in late April.

Niger's government needs another 45 billion CFA francs ($85.24 million) in food aid after a new survey found 500,000 more people than previously thought will face severe food shortages this year, the government said. The new survey, carried out in April and published on Thursday, showed that 3.3 million people, or 22.2 percent of Niger's population, are facing severe food insecurity. Previous estimates put the figure at 2.7 million.