Six NGOs receive funding to combat qat consumption

16 Aug
Malak Shaher
Yemen Times

Published:16-08-2010

SANA’A, 10 August — Hana Al-Adimi, 28, head of the Third Eye Center, expressed her happiness as she obtained funding to combat qat consumption.

Qat is a leaf  containing an amphetamine-like stimulant that produces a burst of energy and  euphoria. Many Yemeni men and women spend their afternoons on qat breaks. The cultivation of the plant sucks up 30 percent of the country’s water supply used in irrigation. 90 percent of the water in Yemen used for that purpose.

The Third Eye Center and five other non-government organizations are being funded by the World Bank’s Civil Society Fund. The organizations aim to combat qat consumption though producing advocacy materials such as brochures, sketches, songs, posters, caricatures, television adverts and documentary films.

Qat consumption causes a number of social problems in Yemen. It directly contributes to poverty as it consumes a significant part of a family’s budget in the place of other basic necessities. As many qat chewers are addicted to the leaf, they place the purchase of qat above that of other commodities needed by them and their family.

Qat consumption also has a negative effect on the national budget. In agriculture, qat cultivation consumes almost 30 percent of the available ground water, and dominates a large proportion of arable land as farmers plant it due to its quick returns. Land used in qat consumption cannot be used for edible crops that could feed the country reducing reliance on imports, or generate export income.

The financial support of NGOs intends to combat qat as part of the government’s third socioeconomic development plan for poverty reduction 2006-2010. The plan intends to reduce qat consumption in a gradual balanced way, encouraging people to voluntarily abandon qat for their own benefit.

The World Bank Country Director in Yemen, David Craig, stressed the important role played by NGOs in the development of their country, especially their dealing with issues such as qat. He explained that they are close to their own society and know exactly what points of deficiency their societies suffer from.

”The society trusts them because they have direct relations with it,” he said.

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