Yemen: Reform or bust

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. Its 22 million-strong population is set to double by 2035 at the current rate of growth, but it's fast running out of water – and oil. Yemen's state structures are weak and incomplete, and the country faces substantial development challenges.

I reported from Yemen for a year – from 2006 to 2007 – and now I'm back to see whether recent reforms are diffusing social, political and economic pressures in this fragile state.

Sudan: From Rebels to Soldiers? The SPLA's Transformation

At the new headquarters of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), some 10km north of Juba town, signs mark the finance, administration and operations directorates.

Laminated name plates with Southern Sudan's official colours line the desks in the new air-conditioned offices. Laptops and internet service are coming soon.

It is a new look, and a new way, for the former rebel movement that fought for liberation in the forests of Southern Sudan for two decades.

Cattle Raids and Clashes Still Plague Jonglei

Forced by civil war to flee her village in Southern Sudan, Rebeka James Galwak found her way to the northern capital of Khartoum and lived there until the conflict formally ended.

With a peace agreement signed in Nairobi in January 2005, Galwak thought her Nuer village in Jonglei state would be safe enough for her to return. But within a year of returning, she said, fighters from the Murle community attacked her home.

Militia Routed, But Fear Remains in Iraq

As the sun came up on a recent morning in the district of Sadr City, Iraqi army troops searched as many as a thousand houses, arresting a dozen suspects and collecting nearly 50 unregistered weapons.

Four months ago, these streets, some too narrow for Humvees, were controlled by the Jaish al-Mahdi, a Shi'ite militia whose name in Arabic means the Mahdi Army, which in 2006 poured out of Sadr City and took over large parts of Baghdad.

Water First: Fighting Thirst in Ethiopia

The water in our house has been turned off for days and my back is absolutely killing me. I've been squirming around on our dirty couches all evening, desperately seeking a position that doesn't hurt. My spine feels permanently compacted and I'm convinced in my self-pity that I can actually feel the vertebrae rubbing against each other.

Sudan: Popcorn, poems and protest

For days, there has been talk of a million-man protest that was to take place today on the streets of Khartoum, in opposition to the International Criminal Court prosecutor's decision to pursue the Sudanese president for genocide and crimes against humanity. Police, journalists and UN had been awaiting the massive rally, which was to put all the other protests that have taken place almost daily to shame.

From what I've heard, 10 people showed up.

Genocide in Darfur? What Genocide?

In an upper-class neighbourhood of the Sudanese capital, three men sit on a rooftop patio, talking politics between spoonfuls of ice cream and sips of espresso.

"I see the government as good - among the best governments we've had," one says.

Another pipes in: "This government solved the two biggest problems in Sudan - peace in the South and the discovery of oil." He goes on: "Of course, it has a lot of disadvantages: It still hasn't solved poverty, problems of education, job opportunities, unemployment ..."

You can/can't go home again

There are approximately 5 million refugees inside and outside Iraq. Yesterday Rick and I went back to Chikook, a refugee neighborhood on the north side of town that is home to, by local estimates, some 4,000 families. Even though the sectarian violence around Baghdad has largely ended for the moment, the neighborhood is still growing as families who had been renting houses in other neighborhoods run out of money and are forced to move there.

Maoists in the Forest: Tracking India's Separatist Rebels

The express bus from Hyderabad to Dantewada takes fifteen hours on a good day. As the suburbs of the software hub are left behind, and then the wrought-iron gates of Ramoji Film City, the smooth pavement falls apart. But the sweep of paddy fields and palms—a facsimile of the INCREDIBLE INDIA! billboard hanging at the Delhi airport when I first arrived—grew more hypnotic with each mile, making up for the rough going. Hills loomed in the hazy distance. Cowherds shunted their stock out of harm's way, and women carried grain in clay pots on their heads.

Sudan: Here We Go!

I arrived in the dusty Sudanese capital Khartoum three weeks ago – after more than 30 hours of travel, two nights of airports and planes and way too many screaming babies.

Khartoum is not what I expected – much more alive and developed. The sun is as hot as everyone warned, but it is more than manageable with enough water and occasional escape to fanned or air-conditioned areas. There are many paved roads, but still enough sand to get in your eyes on a windy day.