The United Nations' World Food Program says it is expanding operations in West Africa to counter the effects of soaring food prices.

The WFP said in a statement Tuesday that it will provide assistance to an additional 1.4 million people in the region this year.

It says operations in Guinea, Mauritania, and Sierra Leone began over the past three months.  New assistance programs in Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Senegal will begin by September.

The WFP says it is responding to increased fuel prices and poor harvests caused by droughts and floods.  The agency is appealing for additional donations to help fund its efforts.

The U.N. agency initially planned to assist about 3.6 million people in West Africa this year.

The biggest of the new operations is in Guinea, where the WFP says it began distributions this month to an additional 600,000 people.  The agency says Guinea is now in the lean season and that many people are surviving on cassava and mangoes.