Qat and Our Students [Archives:2001/18/Health]

April 30 2001

Ali Kaheli
Afif cultural organization is nearly the only private organization that seriously works to create a Yemeni generation without qat. It regularly holds meetings, gives lecturers, issues leaflets and posters etc. Two months ago I attended Afif’s second meeting for school representatives. In the meeting qat was put in a guilt cage and was sentenced to death during the course of the coming ten years. Though we felt that the actual carrying out of this verdict was impossible, yet we realized that building the coming Yemeni generations without qat was possible. I was strongly shocked to read the statistics presented in the meetings:

– Qat water consumption is 60 million while the people’s water consumption is 30 million.
– Qat covers 100,000 hicks which is the three fold of coffee farms. The following chart shows Qat in comparison with other crops:

Corps W.B studies
Corn845,000 tons
Vegetables25,000 tons
Fruit14,000 tons
Qat35 million bonds
In addition to that, specialized studies say that qat revenues reached 63,360 dollars while the revenues of other crops are as follows:
81,702 dollars for grape
50,505 dollars for coffee
36,640 dollars for orange
3,334 dollars for bananas

There were also terrible facts about health damage caused by qat. For example, a medical study done by Dr. Adeel Al-Emad revealed that 21% of cancer cases were caused by qat and that Yemen was threatened with cancer explosion as the number of cancer cases in Yemen has reached 6000 cases annually.

Petrified by these awe-inspired facts I put all of them to of my students. To know the result I finally made the following questionnaire in Hussein Schools:
In this questionnaire I found that 10% chew qat as a habit; 30% don’t chew qat but they think that it is not so bad a habit although it deserves fighting; 50% believe that it’s a bad habit that should be given up. I have pleasure to brief you on what students between 11-18 years say:

Hamza Al-Sarsoor: 10th year student, said that qat causes many diseases like cancer and headaches. He thought that Yemenis ought to stop chewing it.

Heba Shaldoom, 8th year student, said that qat had negative influence on our society. She stated that qat had the following effects:
–Economic effects:
a.The length of qat session (4-6) hours, which is usually followed by (6-8) hours of worrying and absent mindedness, bears no fruit.
b.Qat farms covers vast portions of our agricultural land.
c.The individual pays daily a big sum of money for qat as compared to his income.

B. Social effects:
1. Absence of parents from home causes indiscipline among the children.
2. Qat corrupts. Many employees can be bribed by a bond of qat.

C. Psychological effects:
1. Chewers of qat are always nervous and absent-minded.
2. Qat causes cancer and other disease that lead to psychological disappointment.

Mohammed Hamed Anbol, 10th year student, stated that the reason behind the wide spread of qat was people’s ignorance of its bad effects. He said that Yemeni people should be aware of the social damages caused by qat. He also thought that the only solution was forbidding the buying of qat.

Naema Sami, 8th year student thought that qat was detrimental to health. She also considered it a useless item which has to be given up.

Thamir Jamil Shaldoom, 10th year student said that qat was highly appreciated by those who chew it. They thought that it gave them hours of fun and pleasure. He explained that such ideas about qat contradicted the truth that qat causes the loss of money and health. He added that qat ruined our ethical and religious principles. Qat chewing men became careless about their prayers and their bad health does not enable them to meet the responsibilities of their jobs.

I don’t know how I should end my article, but I think we must be hopeful. It is a positive sign that there is at least one charitable organization that fights qat. I wonder if we will see our Yemen without qat one day.