02/18/2012 12:22 pm ET Updated Feb 20, 2012

West Africa Hunger Crisis: UN Calls For More Help To Assist 10 Million In Need

NIAMEY, Niger -- Top United Nations officials say 10 million people need help amid a food crisis in West Africa's Sahel region.

U.N. Development and Humanitarian chiefs Helen Clark and Valerie Amos called Saturday for greater humanitarian response to the crisis that effects eight countries, including Niger.

During a visit, they commended Niger's government for its agricultural projects that are building more resilience to nutrition crises.

The U.N. has previously said that more than 1 million children in the affected countries are expected to face life-threatening malnutrition this year. The region has not yet recovered from the last drought two years ago, and many families lost their herds which means that they will not have assets to purchase food.

The issue is mainly caused by drought and high food prices, according to the World Food Programme. It's affecting Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon and northern Nigeria

Drought is common in the Sahel region. In Niger, people prepare for the dry months, when they may eat only once a day -- sometimes even once every 36 hours, CNN reports.

International aid agencies have called for about $725 million to respond to the crisis, having received about $135 million, according to the news outlet.

What You Can Do:

Support the World Food Programme, which is providing food vouchers for people to use at local markets, boosting the economy. A $1 donation is enough to give food to four kids. WFP's site also provides ideas for incorporating hunger lessons into education or playing online games to raise money.

Support UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), which are working together to support the management of child malnutrition. UNICEF is also increasing access to clean water and sanitation to prevent the spread of diseases.

Support Mercy Corps which offers opportunities for volunteering, engaging your community in fundraising, making donations online and more.

Support CARE, which fights poverty worldwide and allows you to donate money or supplies and create an online care package.