British Medical Journal Publishes HWISE Scale

The HWISE-RCN announces the latest publication, “Development and validation protocol for an instrument to measure household water insecurity across cultures and ecologies: the Household Water InSecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale,” by members Dr. Sera Young, Shalean Collins, Dr. Godfred Boateng, Dr. Torsten Neilands, Zeina Jamaluddine, Joshua Miller, Dr. Alexandra Brewis, Dr. Edward Frongillo, Dr. Wendy Jepson, Dr. Hugo Melgar-Quiñonez, Dr. Roseanne Schuster, Dr. Justin Stoler, Dr. Amber Wutich on behalf of the HWISE Research Coordination Network. This publication is based off the work of anthropologists, geographers, nutritionists, statisticians and epidemiologists, among others, in 28 sites across four continents. Congratulations on a wonderful article! We are excited to see how the scale is implemented worldwide.


Introduction A wide range of water-related problems contribute to the global burden of disease. Despite the many plausible consequences for health and well-being, there is no validated tool to measure individual- or household-level water insecurity equivalently across varying cultural and ecological settings. Accordingly, we are developing the Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale to measure household-level water insecurity in multiple contexts.

Methods and analysis After domain specification and item development, items were assessed for both content and face validity. Retained items are being asked in surveys in 28 sites globally in which water-related problems have been reported (eg, shortages, excess water and issues with quality), with a target of at least 250 participants from each site. Scale development will draw on analytic methods from both classical test and item response theories and include item reduction and factor structure identification. Scale evaluation will entail assessments of reliability, and predictive, convergent, and discriminant validity, as well as the assessment of differentiation between known groups.

This is an open access article and can be viewed with the following link:

HWISE Scholar Highlight: Dr. Michelle Kooy



Dr. Michelle Kooy is an Associate Professor of the Politics of Urban Water at IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education. She is also the Coordinator for the IHE Graduate School in Water & Development and lecturer in the MSc Programme on Water Governance. Dr. Kooy is cross-appointed to the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam, and is a Senior Editor of the international multi-disciplinary review journal WIRES-Water.

Dr. Kooy’s research is concerned with how inequalities in access to water and exposure to water-related risks in and across urban spaces are mediated through water infrastructure. Theorizing the politics of water infrastructure from the global south she decenters the role of centralized networks in her analysis, focusing instead on the ways in which urban water systems are connected through a range of practices and technologies, and how these simultaneously social, technical, and ecological connections shape the uneven distribution of water and related risks within urban spaces and across rural/urban boundaries.

Her current projects on urban water inequalities in cities of Arusha (Tanzania), Kampala (Uganda); Jakarta, Indonesia; and Maputo (Mozambique) analyze the politics of the urban water cycle to ask how existing interactions between wastewater, piped water, groundwater, surface water are made, and how evenly the costs and benefits are spread across society. This also entails a concern with the politics of knowledge production on urban water issues: identifying where explanatory frameworks for urban water problems come from, the power relations embedded within their assumptions, and their accuracy in explaining dynamics of urban water supply cities of the South.

Dr. Kooy’s selected publications:

Batubara, Kooy, and Zwarteveen (2018) Uneven Urbanisation: Connecting flows of water to flows of people and capital through Jakarta’s flood infrastructureAntipode

Rusca, Alda, and Kooy (2018) Sanitation Justice? Addressing the multiple dimensions of urban sanitation inequalities, book chapter in Water Justice, eds. Boelens, Perrault, Vos. Cambridge University Press.

Furlong and Kooy (2017) Worlding Water Supply: Rethinking beyond the network in JakartaInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research 41(6): 888-903.

Alda, C., Kooy, M., Rusca, M. (2017) Mapping operation and maintenance: an everyday urbanism analysis of inequalities within piped water supply in Lilongwe, Malawi. Urban Geography  (download open access version here)

Walter, Kooy, and Prabaharyaka (2017) The role of bottled drinking water in achieving SDG 6.1: An analysis of affordability and equity from Jakarta, IndonesiaInternational Journal of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

Zwarteveen, Kemerink-Seyoum, Kooy, Evers, Acevedo-Guerrero, Batubara, Faber, Flamini, Boakye-Ansah, Faber, Flamini, Cuadrado-Quesada, Fantini, Gupta, Hasan, ter Horst, Jamali, Jaspers, Obani, Schwartz, Shubber, Smit, Torio, Tutusaus (2017) The politics of water governance: distributions of water, authority, and knowledgeWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews on Water

Wesselink, A., Kooy, M., Warner, J. (2016) Socio-hydrology and hydrosocial analysis: towards dialogues across disciplines. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews on Water.

Kooy, M., Walter, C., Prabaharyaka, I. (2016) Inclusive development of urban water services in Jakarta: the role of groundwater. Habitat International 

For more information and a list of her current research projects, visit her website at

HWISE Scholar Highlight: Dr. Amber Pearson


Dr. Amber Pearson is an Assistant Professor in Department of Geography, Environment & Spatial Sciences and the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University. She is an adjunct fellow at the University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand and part of MSU’s Global Water Initiative. Dr. Pearson serves as a steering committee member in the HWISE-RCN and is this month’s HWISE Scholar Highlight.

Dr. Pearson is a health geographer with a focus on social justice and understanding the unexpected tenacity, adaptability and resilience of the underprivileged, while paying careful attention to the structural and social factors that led to disadvantage in the first place. She has diverse regional interests from poor to wealthy countries. Her features geospatial and epidemiologic methods and critical development thinking.

Her water research is at the intersection of spatial and social dimensions of health with a focus on water security. Her overall research goal is to understand the interactions between human-induced ecological change, political and social dimensions of access to water, and human agency/coping strategies to improve health and wellbeing.

Dr. Pearson’s latest publications:

Whitehead, J., Pearson, A. L., Lawrenson, R., & Atatoa‐Carr, P. (2018). Framework for examining the spatial equity and sustainability of general practitioner services. Australian Journal of Rural Health26(5), 336-341.

Rzotkiewicz, A., Pearson, A. L., Dougherty, B. V., Shortridge, A., & Wilson, N. (2018). Systematic review of the use of Google Street View in health research: major themes, strengths, weaknesses and possibilities for future research. Health & place52, 240-246.

Pearson, A. L., Rzotkiewicz, A., & Namanya, J. (2017). Perceived access to water: Associations with health in rural Uganda. American Journal of Rural Development5(3), 55-64.

Pearson, A. L. (2016). Comparison of methods to estimate water access: a pilot study of a GPS-based approach in low resource settings. International journal of health geographics15(1), 33.

Pearson, A. L., Zwickle, A., Namanya, J., Rzotkiewicz, A., Zwickle A., Mwita, E. (2016). Seasonal shifts in primary water source type: a comparison of largely pastoral communities in Uganda and Tanzania. International journal of environmental research and public health13(2), 169.

Pearson, A. L., Mayer, J. D., & Bradley, D. J. (2015). Coping with household water scarcity in the savannah today: implications for health and climate change into the future. Earth Interactions19(8), 1-14.

For more information you can visit her website at

HWISE Scholar Highlight: Dr. Farhana Sultana

Dr. Farhana Sultana is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, where she is also the Research Director for Environmental Collaboration and Conflicts at the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflicts and Collaboration (PARCC). Dr. Sultana lends her expertise as a steering committee member of the HWISE-RCN. This month we are highlighting her work as an HWISE scholar.

Dr. Sultana is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary scholar of political ecology, water governance, post‐colonial development, social and environmental justice, climate change, and gender. Her research and scholar-activism draw from her experiences of having lived and worked on three continents as well as from her backgrounds in the natural sciences, social sciences, and policy experience. Dr. Sultana is able to ground her research through her time as a Programme Officer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from 1998 to 2001. Additionally, in 2017, Dr. Sultana was invited to speak at The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the human right to water (Picture Below).


Dr. Sultana meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis at The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences after her invited talk there in 2017.

Author of several dozen publications, her recent books are The Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles (2012) and Eating, Drinking: Surviving (2017), and Water: Governance, Justice and the Right to Water (forthcoming 2019). Please also see below for Dr. Sultana’s most recent publications:

Sultana, F. 2018 “An(Other) Geographical Critique of Development and SDGs” Dialogues in Human Geography Vol. 8, No. 2, Pp. 186-190. (Open PDF)

Sultana, Farhana 2018. “The False Equivalence of Academic Freedom and Free Speech: Defending Academic Integrity in the Age of White Supremacy, Colonial Nostalgia, and Anti-intellectualism” ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies. Vol. 17, No. 2, Pp. 228-57. (Open PDF)

Sultana, Farhana 2018 “Water Justice: Why it Matters and How to Achieve it” Water International Vol. 43, No. 4, Pp. 483-493. (Open PDF)

Sultana, Farhana 2018, “Gender and Water in a Changing Climate: Challenges and Prospects” Water Security Across the Gender Divide, Christiane Fröhlich, Giovanna Gioli, Roger Cremades and Henri Myrttinen (Eds.) Springer: The Netherlands. Pp. 17-33. (Open PDF)

Sultana, Farhana 2017 “Reflexivity” The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology, Douglas Richardson  et al. (Eds.),Wiley-Blackwell and the Association of American Geographers. Pp. 105. (Open PDF)

For more information you can visit Dr. Sultana’s website at and follow her on social media @farhana_h2o.

HWISE Scale: A cross-culturally validated scale to measure household water insecurity

Author:  Josh Miller, HWISE Data Coordinator, Northwestern University

Currently, four billion people face severe water scarcity for at least one month each year. As such, the World Economic Forum has ranked water crises as being among the highest global risks to society and the economy. While we can measure water scarcity at the level of the nation or state, it has long been impossible to measure water insecurity at the level where it is experienced: the household. For this reason, our consortium of over 40 researchers has developed the first cross-nationally validated instrument to measure household water security: the Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale. In order to identify the experiences most salient across diverse cultural and ecological settings, we implemented the HWISE Scale in 28 sites, representing over 20 counties.

HWISE Scale Map

Map of sites where the HWISE Scale has been implemented.

The HWISE Scale offers a finer resolution measurement of water insecurity, which is critical for identifying vulnerable populations, allocating resources, and evaluating the impacts and cost-effectiveness of water-related interventions and policies. Further, the short, easy-to-use HWISE Scale fills a measurement gap identified by the UN in its Water Action Decade (2018-2028) plan. By the end of 2018, we hope to release the scale for use by researchers, policymakers, NGOs, and program implementers.

HWISE Researchers in Torréon, MX

“Inseguridad del Agua en La Laguna: Una Nueva Visión de Contexto”

Researchers from Texas A&M University and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte will present HWISE research from Urban Mexico and Urban Brazil at the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila. Dr. Wendy Jepson from Texas A&M University will present, “Preliminary comparative analysis of household water insecurity: Urban Mexico and Urban Brazil,” while fellow HWISE RCN members Dr. Javier Morán Martínez from Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila Unidad Torreón will present on, “Una visión sobre arsénico y agua en la Laguna” and Dr. Felipe Javier Uribe Salas from El Colegio de la Frontera Norte on “Estimación del peso de la enfemedad diarreica asociada a agua y saneamiento en el hogar en Torreón, Coahuila.”

This research is part of the Household Water Insecurity Experiences collaboration and is funded through a CONACYT grant.


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HWISE Scholar Highlight – Dr. Ellis Adjei Adams


Dr. Ellis Adjei Adams is an Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Geosciences at Georgia State University. He serves on the HWISE-RCN steering committee and is an early career scholar. His research lies at the intersection of human-environment interactions in cities, poor urban and peri-urban, and informal settlements of Sub-Saharan Africa.

He is currently involved in two projects. The first builds on his dissertation and explores the role of social learning and co-production in the sustainability of community-public partnerships models for water delivery in urban and peri-urban informal settlements. The second project draws insights from actor-oriented political ecology to examine the complex interplay of water resources and land-tenure systems in recent large-scale land acquisitions for agricultural production in Ghana, focusing on the motivations, information asymmetries, power relations and conflicts between and among such actors as agricultural investors, traditional leaders, smallholder farmers, and communities whose livelihoods depend on water and land.

Latest Publications:

  • Adams, E. A., & Boateng, G. O. (2018). Are urban informal communities capable of co-production? The influence of community–public partnerships on water access in Lilongwe, Malawi. Environment and Urbanization.
  • Adams, E. A. (2018). Intra-urban inequalities in water access among households in Malawi’s informal settlements: Toward pro-poor urban water policies in Africa. Environmental Development.
  • Adams, E. A. (2017). Thirsty slums in African cities: household water insecurity in urban informal settlements of Lilongwe, Malawi. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 1-19.