Qat in Yemen

Photo story by IGVP member, Maarten de Wolf.

Yemen is known for its qat culture. The fresh leaf of the qat plant or tree is chewed by the Yemenis. The leaf is chewed upon and then stored in the cheek for hours. It is a social custom dating back hundreds of years.

The last 30 years qat cultivation has exploded. The World Health Organisation estimates that around 80% of the adult males and 40% of the adult females chew the qat leaf. And many do that on a daily basis.

Although qat is not seriously addictive, it can produce a psychological dependence. And it causes economic, health and environmental problems.

Many families spend half their income on qat, thus depriving their children of their basic needs. Chewing on a leaf that is produced with pesticides creates health issues. Qat cultivation also consumes lots of water and that´s an alarming fact for a country like Yemen where water is scarce. Around 40% of the country´s water supply goes toward irrigating qat.

Here is a photo story about qat and the struggle of eradicating qat from Yemen.