Author(s): Berhanu Megerssa, Aregash Esayas, Alyi Mohamed
Khat (Catha edulis Forsk) is a flowering evergreen tree and a controversial crop in Ethiopia. By accounting 13.4% of the export earnings; khat is the third largest export crop, next to coffee and oil seed. Hence, it plays a considerable role in the national economy, and it is a means of income to millions of producers and small and large scale traders who directly or indirectly depends on it. But on the other hand, its psychoactive action has largely hampered the socio-economic and health status of the society. Thus, with aim of identifying its beneficial and harmful socioeconomic effects, a multistage sampling technique was used in the study. To this effect, a total of 51 chewers and 51 non-chewers were selected for comparing its socio-economic impacts in the District. To this effect semi-structured interview schedule was used for quantitative data collection and focused group discussion, key informant’s interviews and personal observations was used for qualitative data collection. The result showed youths were more accustomed to khat chewing; and the mean age difference was statistically significant at 5% (SD=4.23). Similarly 84% of youngsters spent a session of 6.1±3.13 hours for khat chewing per day. These behaviors had undesirably affected the labor productivity of the study area. Similarly, among regular chewers, 44% had a daily habit, while 5%, 7%, 9% of them chewed once, twice and trice a week, respectively. The logistic regression result also showed that, odds of khat were two times higher in males than females; and singles were more inclined to khat chewing than married chewers [OR and (95%CI) = 2.08 (1.01, 4.26)]. Alcohol use after khat chewing [OR and (95%CI) = 3.14 has also adversely affected the socio-economic and health status of chewers. But in the paradox, the country is earning a lot of foreign income with a tradeoff of socio-economic ills. Hence, 28.47% of khat producers earned an average annual income of about 500 USD, while 5.49% of producers earned an average income of more than 3000 USD per year per household, respectively. This helped the farmers to earn income for the household in pay off of deterring impacts. However the ills by far overweigh the merits, since the former disintegrates the socio-economic and health status of the community at large. Therefore to reduce such impacts awareness should be provided to change the behavior of new generations who are more inclined to use this psychoactive drug and thereby decrease the chewing habit. Educational campaigns should also be in place to reduce prevalence of khat chewing by inserting its core elements in the curriculum of elementary school; since most of chewers were from illiterate and lower school people. However banning of khat chewing especially at school and higher learning institution should be more encouraged to reduce the tendency of chewing habits and thereby to institute sustainable development.