Nearly a million people, many of them children, face malnutrition as Niger confronts its worst food shortage in two decades. At the start of the summer, Nigers government refused to distribute free food; instead, it sold grain at subsidized prices, hoping to stabilize the food market. But prices rose and people began to starve. Even in normal years, one child in four dies before age 5. With this years famine, children are dying by the thousands, according to newspaper reports and relief agencies. Niger President Mamadou Tanja insisted the reports were false propaganda put out by relief workers to boost donations.