Despite its obvious importance for health and well-being, we are currently unable to comparably measure water insecurity across diverse ecological settings. Although there are myriad national, regional, community, and hydrologic indexes of water availability, no cross-cultural scales exist to measure water insecurity at the level it is most acutely experienced: the household. Therefore, we developed the Household Water InSecurity Experiences (HWISE) study to develop this much-needed tool. By partnering with over 40 motivated collaborators, we have been able to implement the HWISE survey in 28 sites globally. Currently, we are in the process of validating the HWISE Scale and look forward to sharing the final set of items by early 2019.
The Global Ethnohydrology Study is a transdisciplinary multi-year, multi-site program of research that examines the range of variation in local ecological knowledge of water issues, also known as “ethnohydrology.” It will focus on showing how factors, such as increasing urbanization, water scarcity and climate change, are related to changes in cultural ideas and knowledge. Research topics include: Water Sharing in the Wake of Disaster (2018-2019) and Measuring Household Water Insecurity (2017-2018).
Households in the urban periphery access water through complex systems of formal and informal water technologies, practices, institutions, and organizational forms. While many countries have increased access to piped water system, governments and utilities still remain limited in their capacity to build infrastructure to meet demand in growing urban and peri-urban areas. But even in areas that have experienced increases in network water provision, recent studies have examined the paradoxical persistence of unregulated water arrangements and practices. This study examines the kinds of water practices and arrangements and investigates the impact of these systems on household water insecurity.