Use the "back" button of your browser to return to the list of abstracts.
THE CHANGING FACES OF THE KHAT CULTURE: "LIVING WITH KHAT" ON THE STREETS OF ETHIOPIA AND VULNERABILITY TO POOR HEALTH, A CASE FROM MERKATO AREA OF ADDIS ABABA [Abstract ID: 0301-08]
This study places particular emphasis on the emergence of a new culture of khat consumption in the Merkato area of Addis Ababa. It also examines the vulnerability to poor health of street khat chewers. Both secondary and primary sources were consulted in the research. In-depth interviews, FGDs and personal observations were employed to gather the primary data. Thematic and comparative methods were used to analyse the collected data. This study found that in parallel with the geographical spread of khat use, profound changes are also occurring in the traditional patterns of use. Khat consumption has moved from traditional contexts into a new urban and commercial environment. Socially, there has been a rise in consumption amongst those for whom it was viewed as culturally inappropriate. In the Merkato area of Addis Ababa, the streets and the verandas overlooking the streets are strewn with khat leaves and twigs. Buying and carrying bundles of khat leaves and chewing on the streets both in groups and individually has become a part of everyday street life. Though a recent development, street khat chewing has become a fast-growing subculture that has entered the lives of vulnerable groups for whom custom no longer provides protection against the adverse consequences of problematic use. This study reveals that the effect of khat is not the same for everyone and everywhere. The effects are the outcome of complex and multifaceted processes that are determined by the nature of khat (drug), by the personal characteristics of the chewers (set) and the social and physical environment (setting). In particular, factors such as the quality and quantity of khat and food they consume, supplements consumed during chewing, the previous health status of the chewers, the place of consumption and the nature of the social capital, determine the vulnerability of khat chewers to adverse health consequences. In consequence, any intervention intended to address khat induced health problems needs to look at who, what, where, when, how often, how much, why and how, in order to minimise risks.