Advancing methods for research on household water insecurity: Studying entitlements and capabilities, socio-cultural dynamics, and political processes, institutions and governance

Amber Wutich, Jessica Budds, Laura Eichelberger, Jo Geere, Leila M. Harris, Jennifer A. Horney, Wendy Jepson, Emma Norman, Kathleen O'Reilly, Amber L. Pearson, Sameer H. Shah, Jamie Shinn, Karen Simpson, Chad Staddon, Justin Stoler, Manuel P. Teodoro, Sera L. Young

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Household water insecurity has serious implications for the health, livelihoods and wellbeing of people around the world. Existing methods to assess the state of household water insecurity focus largely on water quality, quantity or adequacy, source or reliability, and affordability. These methods have significant advantages in terms of their simplicity and comparability, but are widely recognized to oversimplify and underestimate the global burden of household water insecurity. In contrast, a broader definition of household water insecurity should include entitlements and human capabilities, socio-cultural dynamics, and political institutions and processes. This paper proposes a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods that can be widely adopted across cultural, geographic, and demographic contexts to assess hard-to-measure dimensions of household water insecurity. In doing so, it critically evaluates existing methods for assessing household water insecurity and suggests ways in which methodological innovations advance a broader definition of household water insecurity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalWater Security
Early online date16 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Household water insecurity
  • Methods
  • Methodological
  • Qualitative
  • Ethnography
  • Measurement

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