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A boy with a bag of qat leaves from street vendors in Sanaa, Yemen in the old city souk. Although qat chewing isn't as severe a health hazard as smoking tobacco, it has drastic social, economic, and environmental consequences. When chewed, the leaves release a mild stimulant related to amphetamines. Qat is chewed several times a week by a large percentage of the population: 90 percent of Yemen's men and 25 percent of its women. Because growing qat is 10 to 20 times more profitable than other crops, scarce groundwater is being depleted to irrigate it, to the detriment of food crops and agricultural exports.

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YEM_080328_069_xw.jpg
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© Peter Menzel www.menzelphoto.com
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A boy with a bag of qat leaves from  street vendors in Sanaa, Yemen in the old city souk. Although qat chewing isn't as severe a health hazard as smoking tobacco, it has drastic social, economic, and environmental consequences. When chewed, the leaves release a mild stimulant related to amphetamines. Qat is chewed several times a week by a large percentage of the population: 90 percent of Yemen's men and 25 percent of its women. Because growing qat is 10 to 20 times more profitable than other crops, scarce groundwater is being depleted to irrigate it, to the detriment of food crops and agricultural exports.