Dr. Sera Young

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Global Health at Northwestern University


A Tool to Measure Household Water Insecurity Globally

Water insecurity — which includes persistent water shortages, contamination, and flooding — threatens human health, wellbeing, economic productivity, and international security. As such, the World Economic Forum has listed “water crises” as among the top 10 most likely and most impactful global risks. Yet strikingly, there has been no way to comparably measure household or individual water insecurity. In this webinar, we discussed the development, validation, and uses of the Household Water InSecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale, a tool that addresses this critical measurement gap.

Watch the webinar to learn:

  • How the easy-to-use, 12-item HWISE Scale was developed and validated using survey data collected from 8,127 households across 28 sites in 23 low- and middle-income countries
  • The multiple uses of the HWISE Scale, including monitoring and evaluation
  • How water insecurity impacts health, nutrition, and economic productivity based on preliminary findings


Dr. Sera Young is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Global Health at Northwestern University. Methodologically, she draws on her training in medical anthropology, international nutrition, and public health to take a biocultural approach to understanding how mothers, especially in low-resource settings, cope to preserve their health and that of their families. Most recently, she has led efforts to develop the Household Water InSecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale, a cross-culturally valid tool to measure household water insecurity. The HWISE Scale can be used to estimate prevalence of household water insecurity and  investigate its causes and consequences.






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