May 2018 - Maua, Meru District, Kenya
Between five to ten million people chew khat on a daily basis around the world. These branches, with similar effects to amphetamines, are very popular in Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Historically, we can find writings about khat in the Persian literature from the 11th century, but very recently, in the 1980’s, the World Health Organization classified it as a drug with psychological dependence effects.
In the horn of Africa, khat is mostly cultivated in the district of Maua, a hilly region located in the eastern part of Mount Kenya. Here khat is part of the Meru traditional culture and is called “Miraa”. This small district, situated at three hundred kilometres from North of Nairobi, provides everyday Kenyan and Somali users with freshly harvested khat. The economy of this area relies on the cultivation and the exportation of the so-called “cash crop”. Its production is still high even though it was banned from the United Kingdom, one of its main clients, in 2014. Farmers, wholesalers and traders depend on these leaves and branches as well as the local administration, which collects most of its taxes from khat.