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What Are the WISE Scales?

The Three 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 three 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 (BWISE) scale is based on a subset of the 4 water-related experiences. 

  • Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale
    • Comprised of all 12 items
    • Assesses experiences at the household level
    • Takes ~3 minutes to administer
  • Individual Water Insecurity Experiences (IWISE) Scale
    • Comprised of all 12 items
    • Assesses experiences of individuals
    • Takes ~3 minutes to administer
  • Brief Water Insecurity Experiences (BWISE) Scale
    • Comprised of a subset of 4 items: "worry", "plans", "hands" and "drink"
    • Takes ~1 minute to administer

The 12 WISE Experiences

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

WORRY*

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

INTERRUPT

line drawing of suds over shirt indicating clothes washing

CLOTHES

line drawing of a calendar

PLANS*

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

FOOD

line drawing of hands with suds indicating hand washing

HANDS*

line drawing of a human body with soap suds indicating bathing

BODY

line drawing of a cup of water for drinking

DRINK*

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

ANGRY

line drawing of human sleeping in bed

SLEEP

line drawing of a water drop with a line though it

NONE

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

SHAME

*These items are included in the BWISE Scale. Read the full questions used in the scales.

Scoring

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.