27 February, 2014
From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has appealed for help in fighting the food crisis in Zimbabwe. The World Food Program says more than 2 million people there are facing hunger or starvation.
The United States recently answered the appeal. The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton announced a $4 million grant to the U.N. agency. The donation brings the total U.S. assistance to fighting hunger in Zimbabwe to $29 million this year.
Ambassador Wharton announced the donation earlier this month while on a visit to Matabeleland North province. The World Food Program says Matabeleland North is one of four provinces where the food crisis is severe. However, some Zimbabweans protested the U.S. announcement.
Robert Tshuma was among the demonstrators during the ambassador's visit. He says the protest was against the financial and travel restrictions Western countries have ordered against President Robert Mugabe and his allies.
The financial and travel sanctions were first declared more than ten years ago. The U.S. and other countries acted after reports of human rights abuses and unfair elections in Zimbabwe.
Mr Tshuma believes the sanctions should be removed. Ambassador Wharton said the demonstration was an example of freedom of expression. He said the United States wants the people of Zimbabwe to reduce their need for seasonal humanitarian assistances.
Zimbabwe has grown to depend on such assistance since 2000, when its agricultural production began to decrease. Officials have blamed the decreased production on a lack of rainfall. Some critics of President Mugabe blamed his land reforms. They says those policies reduced the productivity of the country's farms.
Since 2000, the main crop corn has been in short supply. It is now the "hunger season," the last three-month before farmers harvest their crops. During this period, The World Food Program says, it needs to raise $86 million to feed more than two million hungry Zimbabweans.
The WFP says the latest U.S. donation is still not enough to pay for its health and nutrition activities in Zimbabwe. The U.N. agency says it needs $60 million in the next six months to finance these programs.
And that's the Economics Report from VOA Learning English. I'm Mario Ritter.