Household Water Insecurity

A household’s health and well-being depends on their personal experience of water security - including availability, accessibility, sufficiency, and reliability of water.

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To date, progress towards equitable and sufficient water has been primarily measured by population-level data on water availability. To understand the many ways that problems with water impact on health and well-being, however, higher resolution measures are needed – at household level.

The Household Water InSecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale measures household water insecurity in an equivalent way across disparate cultural and ecological settings. It is a set of 12 questions developed using data from 8,127 households in 28 sites in 23 low- and middle-income countries. The HWISE Scale is reliable, valid, and equivalent across sites. For the first time, it is possible to equivalently measure the multiple dimensions of water (availability, access, use, and reliability) at a high resolution.

The interactive map shows where people get their drinking water from, whether they are worried about water, and the effort required to get water.

Data generated from the scale can guide the international community’s ambitious development agenda by contributing an evidence base for clinical, public health, and policy recommendations regarding water. Specifically, the HWISE Scale can be used to understand the causes and consequences of water insecurity, measure prevalence of water insecurity, track its change over time, and evaluate both the impact and cost-effectiveness of water-related programs, technologies, and policies. The simple 12-item scale was designed for ease of use, such that it can be implemented by scientists, health practitioners, policymakers, programme developers, and community leaders.


An article describing the scale’s validation is currently under review; data is expected to be made available in 2019


Household water insecurity

What is a household’s experience of water scarcity and its impacts?

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