How Yemen Prefers To Remain Intoxicated Than Brace For Corona Virus Attack
A mild stimulant that flourishes in the highlands of Yemen and Ethiopia, qat is a way of life for Yemenis, and even today, when the country is trying to recoup from a civil war and Covid-19 outbreak.
According to the World Bank reports, 72 per cent of Yemeni men chew the plant. Users are known to spend almost 10 per cent of their income on it – among low-income users the proportion is up to 30 per cent. Chronic use is associated with mental and physical health problems.
Even now, the markets of the capital of Sanaa are continuing to sell the stimulant, while most markets across the world continue to be closed down in order to contain the spread of the virus. Despite the fact, the country’s economy has been ravaged by civil war. As a result, it is today, considered one of the poorest and the least developed in the world.
But unfortunately, the male population in majority is seen preferring to spend on qat and flaunt the mandatory rule of social distancing. Media reports from the city confirmed that Yemenis could be seen thronging the local markets busily selecting bunches of the chewable leaf from vendors packed into the narrow lanes crowded with stalls.
This is a huge risk for a vulnerable economy, which is neither medically nor financially equipped to handle a medical emergency, which even the best equipped nations like the UK, Britain and US have had a challenge in containing. The numbers of those perished through the Covid-19 infection has crossed 2 million mark worldwide.
Banned in many other countries, Yemen is a major producer and consumer of qat. Since 2015, the country’s economy went spiraling down, diminishing its spot as the country once best known for its coffee industry. However, greed for easy profits amongst the war like conditions, pushed the Yemenis to trade more on qat and replace crop into other agricultural lands — around the Red Sea and in African countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia where it also flourishes.While WHO estimates show that 90 percent men in Yemen are used to this slow chewing tobacco, women and children can also be seen consuming it occasionally.
Additionally and ironically too, while the insurgents who control much of the north including Sanaa, have suspended schools and flights to ward off the pandemic, they have been unable to shut down the qat markets. It’s a kind of opium which unites a devastated nation.