Implication of khat consumption and trade on the socio-economic wellbeing of the community in Kamukunji Sub-county, Nairobi County, Kenya
Throughout history, all societies have records and experiences with mind altering drugs. These include stimulants and narcotics for drinking, smoking, or chewing. The socio-cultural values and norms had what was acceptable and what was regulated. One of these mood- and mind-altering drug is Khat (Catha edulis). While the effects of Khat consumption on the health of consumers has been well documented by medical practitioners, its socio-economic implications are not distinctly documented, specifically in Kenya. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of Khat consumption and trade on the socio-economic wellbeing of the community in Kamukunji Sub-County, Nairobi County, Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were to: examine the effects of Khat consumption on family relationships; explore the effects of Khat consumption on the consumers’ household economy; determine the effects of Khat consumption on consumer-community relationships and analyze the effects of Khat trade on the retailers’ household economy. The study was guided by both structural functionalism and conflict theories. The study applied exploratory and field survey descriptive designs, using a mixed method approach. The target population was families whose members consume Khat and the community which Khat consumers interact with on a regular basis, as well as Khat retail traders in the study area. A sample of 424 respondents were taken using purposive and snowball sampling techniques. The data were obtained through a blend of quantitative and qualitative methods. Structured questionnaires were administered and analyzed using SPSS version 20 for the generation of means and standard deviations, chi-square Tests and multiple linear regressions. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were thematically analyzed and presented through narrative and verbatim. Validity of the instruments was determined using experts’ judgment while reliability was through piloting of the instruments. A reliability statistic of 0.914 was determined using Cronbach method. The study found that Khat consumption was widely accepted across marital status and by all age groups. The factors which had negative effect on household economy were singled out as number of days Khat was consumed per week, the variety of Khat consumed and the level of education. The study found a significant association between income of Khat consumers and marital status. From the study, Khat retail traders’ highest level of education completed had a positive significant influence on the household economy. Traders reported Khat trade to be more lucrative compared to other retail trade in the area. It was found that most respondents preferred Khat regulation as compared to total banning and recommended community sensitization on the implication of Khat consumption. It was also found that familial dysfunction generally arises due to weakening of essential roles and poor distribution of responsibilities. It is anticipated that this study will act as a benchmark of studying socio-economic implications of Khat consumption and trade. This is achieved through its evidence based informed results as well as informing intervening policies that will contribute to the overall stability and solidarity of the society. The study will also bridge the gap in knowledge and cost benefit analysis between drug use, and socioeconomic development.