Comic Answer to Yemen Water Crisis

Yemen is projected to be the first Arab country that will use up all of its groundwater, but no-one knows exactly when the water table will dry out or fall beyond a viable level for human use.

In a race to shape public opinion, the government has developed a national mascot to encourage water conservation.

Rowyan is an animated raindrop, a cheery cartoon character with moustache and headdress. His wife, Rowyana, has curling eyelashes. She carries a handbag and wears a veil and full-length black robes.

Yemen: Doctors on the beaches

Night after night, from September to May, Yemen's wild, remote southern beaches provide the backdrop for a slow-burn humanitarian crisis.

Somali refugees stagger from the black sea in weak starlight. Some collapse on the sand flats, weak and exhausted. Others paddle in the silvery surf looking for plastic bags – thrown from the boat – containing their few belongings.

China Unlikely to Loosen Its Grip in West (Photo by Ryan Anson)

By Jill Drew

Photo by Ryan Anson

Violent outbursts are continuing in the Xinjiang region of western China, with the latest resulting in the deaths of two policemen who were attacked Wednesday while searching a cornfield for a woman they believe is involved in a separatist cell.

State media reported Saturday morning that police found the alleged assailants and shot six of them dead after they tried to defend themselves with knives, wounding two security officials.

End Looms for Tamil Tigers

Aggressive Sri Lankan government forces continue to push deeper into the Tamil Tiger heartland and are now within reach of their administrative capital, raising hopes that the end of a brutal 25-year civil war may be near.

The military campaign has benefited from an international crackdown on the Tigers' fundraising and smuggling networks, and high-level defections that have undermined grassroots Tamil support for its iron-willed chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Yemen: Fake beards

I went to chew qat with the actors who play terrorists in a new feature film called 'The Losing Bet'. Ahmed was the first to wander in to the production offices. He had left his shoes outside and was wearing socks, Yemeni-style. He sat down next to me.

Ahmed plays Murad in the film – an unemployed youth turned suicide bomber. "What's in your bag?" I joked. "Don't worry. You're safe," he laughed. "I won't detonate."

Abkhazia Pawns its Independence

They've been dreaming about independence for years. In 1999 Abkhazia's citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence in a national referendum. When I met top Abkhaz politicians only few weeks ago, "independence" and "sovereign state" were terms they used frequently and longingly. For them, a return to Georgia was simply unacceptable. They called Russia their "window to the world". However, they also remembered periods during the Yeltsin years when their neighbour to the North did not always seem to be a reliable ally.

Vietnam: Farm School

Tu is 21 years old, and has just graduated from University studying agriculture. At Lanh's invitation, her family has moved from their village where they were growing commercial rice, onto the farm school property to start up a sort of model farm using only permaculture techniques. Back at home they grew wetland rice - the rice grown in big flat lowland paddies. Now they are in the mountains, they're struggling, because they don't know how to grow upland rice - the kind of rice they grow here - in terraced fields.

Military Moving in on Tamil Capital, Sri Lankan Officials Say

For the first time in more than a decade, Sri Lankan government forces are deep inside the Tamil Tigers' northern stronghold and within striking distance of the Tamil capital, according to military officials who insist an end to one of Asia's deadliest civil wars nears by the day.

Some observers say it's still too soon to talk of the end of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's 25-year armed struggle for a Tamil state. ...

Yemen: Facing forwards

Yemen's civil society is still in an early growth phase but non-profits and pressure groups will play an important role in strengthening democratic institutions for the future.

I wrote last Friday about the need for a new trust to support girls who escape from early, unwanted marriages.

But I recently spent the morning at an incubator organization, the Youth Leadership Development Foundation, which is training the next generation of managers and administrators who will help the civil society sector to grow.