Yemen: State of Intoxication

SBS Australia

Is Yemen a nation that is always high? Everyday people of all ages around the country slow down each afternoon to chew Khat leaves.

And while the people are legally getting stoned, farms have stopped growing food, and the water supply is low.

One kid, only about 5 or 6 years old is asked: “Do you chew khat?” He smiles a wide, empty smile, “Yes, every day.”

He is just one of many who lives in a country utterly consumed by the drug. It has already had an impact on society: people cannot sleep, irritability, up to severe psychosis and filmmakers also witnesses schizophrenia in people chewing khat.

But what has to be the most worrying sign for the country is its resources, things are getting dangerous as farmers are quitting the food industry and instead are growing the drug.

According to some estimates, the amount of locally grown food has dropped from 95% to just 8% in recent decades, alongside a worrying drop in the water table to irrigate the growing plants.

The group ‘Khat Free Nation’ is making a stand everybody getting high, but in a nation, so hooked, even they wonder whether anyone will be able to turn the concerns into action. “It’s over, the whole population chews. Who doesn’t chew?”

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