Water Insecurity Driving Food Insecurity [“WI>FI”]

Many households globally struggle daily with food insecurity. Food insecurity is associated with greatly elevated risk of both infectious and chronic diseases and worsening psychological health. Many development activities focus on improving household food insecurity, often in isolation from water interventions. But what if much household food insecurity in the most resource-poor environments is driven by water insecurity? Without secure water, for example, households can’t easily grow or cook food.

In the WI>FI project we are investigating explicitly the conditions under which household food insecurity might be accounted for by water insecurity. If we can produce consistent evidence that water insecurity drives household food insecurity, this then suggests food insecurity interventions must begin by securing household water access. Longitudinal data collection is currently underway in collaboration with Haramaya University, Ethiopia and the Kersa Health and Demographic Surveillance System

(HDDS). In 2019-2020 detailed data are being collected in ~5,000 rural (mostly smallholder) and urban households in and around Harar, tracking households across the wet and dry seasons. The data collection includes food and water modules, but also highly detailed information on household economics and agricultural production, nutritional status, and other detailed health data.

Haramaya University is interested in working with any HWISE members on this or other projects that can leverage the Kersa HDDS. Here’s some more about the work of Haramaya University’s HWISE member Dr Kedir.

We are also finishing up analysis of the cross-sectional HWISE survey data to identify important theoretical questions that we might be able to answer using more detailed field data such as being collected in Ethiopia.