Niger has made an "anguished appeal" for emergency food aid to help some three million people facing famine after years of drought and a locust infestation.

The appeal from Prime Minister Hama Amadou comes about a week after the United Nations asked for more than 16 million dollars to help what it calls Niger's "silent crisis."

U.N. estimates say 800,000 children under the age of five suffer from hunger in the northwest African country, including 150,000 who are severely malnourished.

A majority of the country's 11 million people survive on subsistence farming. Years of drought and a recent locust invasion has decimated crops.

In addition, Niger's government has levied large taxes on staple goods. Civil society groups have called for protests against those taxes next Thursday.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.