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What Are the WISE Scales?

The Four Scales

The Water Insecurity Experiences (WISE) Scales are simple survey tools to quantify how often people around the world encounter problems with the access, use, and reliability (stability) of water for domestic use.

There are four versions of the WISE scale. The household (HWISE) and individual (IWISE) scales ask about the frequency of experiences with 12 common water-related disturbances to emotional well-being or disruptions in daily activities. The brief (HWISE-4) and (IWISE-4) scales are based on a subset of the 4 water-related experiences. 

The 12 WISE Experiences

line drawing of human head with a swirl inside indicating human worry


line drawing of a chain with a broken link indicating a disruption


line drawing of suds over shirt indicating clothes washing


line drawing of a calendar


line drawing of plate of food with steam indicating cooking of food


line drawing of hands with suds indicating hand washing


line drawing of a human body with soap suds indicating bathing


line drawing of a cup of water for drinking


line drawing of human head with rain cloud and lightning bolt over it indicating anger


line drawing of human sleeping in bed


line drawing of a water drop with a line though it


line drawing of a person with a tear by their eye being looked at by another person standing over them indicating feeling shame


*These items are included in the HWISE-4 Scale. Read the full questions used in the scales.


Each of the 12 items are scored 0 (never), 1 (rarely), 2 (sometimes), or 3 (often/always), for a total score range of 0-36. A score of 12 or more is considered water insecure for the HWISE and IWISE scales.