Some 2,500 people marched through the streets of Niger’s capital, Niamey, last week to demand that the government does more to relieve the food crisis.
More than three million people need food aid in Niger. Protesters say the government has done nothing, even though some are starving to death.
Some 150,000 young children are said to be severely malnourished already.
“We are hungry” and “Give us food”, the protesters shouted in front of parliament.
The food shortages follow a poor rainy season last year, compounded by an invasion of locusts.
The organisers of the march, the Democratic Coordination of Niger Civil Society, say the authorities did nothing to prepare for the shortages, even though there was ample warning.
The Niger government, following market principles demanded by the IMF and World Bank, said it would be “foolish” to distribute free food.
Meanwhile the United Nations (UN) has announced it has not had a single pledge of money for its Niger appeal. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has called for $16.2m to buy food for Niger.
But not a penny has been pledged by the great powers.
Civil servants began an indefinite general strike last week for a pay rise.
Strikers took to the streets in Mombasa, Kisumu and Nairobi, although in other areas the response was more patchy
The government has now moved to sack some 9,000 of the strikers, and is threatening others.
Aids is spreading faster than ever, outstripping efforts to contain it, United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan said last week.
“Last year saw more new infections and Aids-related deaths than ever before,” Annan told a conference in New York.
Only 12 percent of people with Aids in underdeveloped countries are getting anti-retroviral drugs, he added.