1.1. Background of the study
Some oral traditions claim that khat originated from Yemen, however the literature indicates that khat originated from Ethiopia, specifically in Hararge with a gradual expansion to different parts of Ethiopia, Yemen and other parts of the world as cited by Huffnagel in1961 (Dechassa ,2001).
In Ethiopia khat is an important and potentially lucrative cash crop. The employment opportunity created through the cultivation of khat is very high in that large numbers of people are involved in growing, harvesting, sorting, packing, transporting, loading and unloading the commodity (Dechasa, 2001)
Many literatures explain that growing and chewing khat have both economic advantages and disadvantages. Similarly many researchers conclude that chewing khat has impact on health and on others social issues. Consuming khat juice from young leaves stimulates brain and spinal cord (through synapses) resulting in the desirable effects (as cited by Dechassa from Kalix, 1984), which are perceived by addicted individuals. The pleasurable effects are relief from fatigue, euphoria, increased alertness and energy level, feelings of excitement, improved ability to communicate, enhanced imaginative ability and capacity to associate ideas and heightened self-confidence ( Abebe, 2004)
The objective of this study is to analyze on the impact of chewing khat and the prevalence on in and out of school youth. In this study we will try to identify which age groups are highly participated in khat consumption, why an individual’s chew khat and the resource wasted and time elapsed in chewing khat. The out comes of the study will have the significance for the developing understanding about the subject, paving the way for future research and development by development agencies, researchers, extension agents, policy makers and other interested stakeholders.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Many literatures indicate that khat consumption is addictive and has a negative physical, economic and social connotation. Although non-users both in rural and urban areas condemn the practice of chewing, the number of people chewing is increasing particularly among the youth. In urban areas, chewing khat is a common leisure activity which, combined with the consumption of it, followed by alcohol is having an adverse effect on family life (Dechassa, 2001).
The prevalence of khat chewing is increasing and along with it other substances such as cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking are being used. Moreover, illicit substances including shisha and hashish are also being taken. The problem is especially worrisome among youth who have no job or who are daily laborers (Teleke, 2007). Though officially discouraged, khat stands among the most important cash crops in Ethiopia, with strong markets domestically as well as in neighboring Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen and the Gulf State (Dechasa 2001).
Khat is clearly an important cash crop in Ethiopia well-known for its foreign currency earnings. Nonetheless, it is little understood and given no development and research attention as yet. Millions of people both in Ethiopia and other countries are making a living from the crop. Nevertheless, it is mostly viewed as a socially undesirable “drug plant”. As a cash crop commonly grown in otherwise food insecure parts of the country, the need to understand better economics of the plant is very crucial. Different countries have attempted to impose restrictions (by substitution or compensation) against the crop at different times considering it socially undesirable apparently because the economic and sociological aspects of the crop are not well understood. Similarly some literature explains chewing khat has positive impact on the productivity of the individuals.