Addis Ababa’s Khat houses.

Khat leaf, a natural psychoactive and stimulant, is believed to be second only to coffee as Ethiopia’s most exported commodity. Sustaining more than 2 million small-scale farmers, the government has no clear policies on the production and trade of the plant, which is illegal in Canada and the United States.

Mostly used by men, the leaf is also popular with students wanting to increase their concentration. Addiction to the leaf is real and spending 4-5 hours chewing in a khat house can slowly become a daily pattern. The soft green leaves dictate the daily routine of many Ethiopians who must fulfil a days-worth of work in the morning to free up time for the afternoon chewing ceremony.

Ethiopian khat houses cater to a wide range of social classes and the quality of the 
product and the reputation of the establishment is reflected in the price of leaves. This photo series documents the lower class khat houses in the Saris neighbourhood of Addis Ababa.