International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has backed a World Vision campaign to help West Africa
The Government is to match donations from the British public pound for pound in a charity appeal to battle the food crisis in West Africa.
International children's charity World Vision is trying to raise £5 million to help deliver food and medical care to people in the region.
According to the charity, more than 18 million people in Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Senegal do not have enough food to eat and in the drought-plagued region, four million hungry children are at risk of acute malnutrition.
The charity is asking the British public to help raise £5 million and said the UK Government has promised to match every £1 donated to its appeal with another £1.
If every working person in the UK gives just 17p, £10 million could be raised to help deliver food and medical care to thousands, World Vision said.
Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, said: "World Vision is providing help to save lives and alleviate suffering resulting from the food crisis in West Africa - but it is also helping to reduce the risk of similar crises in the future.
"By matching public donations pound for pound from our existing aid budget, the UK Government will help World Vision double the impact it can have in meeting short term needs and building longer term resilience."
The drive follows the launch of a twitter campaign #shareNiger by World Vision last week.
The charity's chief executive officer Justin Byworth, who saw the suffering first hand on a recent trip to Niger, said: "Children in West Africa are facing a potentially fatal food crisis.
"Low rainfalls and failed harvests are leaving tens of thousands of children severely malnourished."