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News and Updates

World Water Week Theme: World Food Day

October 4, 2023

Water is the theme of World Food Day this year. The value of experiential measures of water for understanding and mitigating food insecurity and poor nutrition is being highlighted in a number of ways, including a webinar hosted by Nature Water.

Nature Highlights the WISE Scales

August 1, 2023

In their series highlighting progress towards SDGs, the journal Nature featured the utility of the WISE Scales as a policy tool, along with some of the ways it is being used by communities around the world to measure water insecurity.

Webinars Explore the Connection Between Mental Health, Food and Water Insecurity, and Climate Change

July 12, 2023

In July, the WISE Scales were featured in two webinars about the pathways between water security, climate change, and mental health hosted by the University on New South Wales and others. Watch part one and part two, to learn about how climate change and water insecurity go hand in hand, directly impacting mental health.

Government of Nuevo León Signs Commitment to Collaborate with WISE-LAC Network

July 4, 2023

On July 4, 2023 five members of the Water Insecurity Experiences Network of Latin America and the Caribbean (WISE-LAC) were invited to the Palace of the Governor of Nuevo León to sign a commitment to join the WISE-LAC network and ameliorate water insecurity in their state. The government of Nuevo León demonstrates their role as a thought leader in the measurement and mitigation of water insecurity by adding the HWISE to their routine household surveys of social programs.

INSP Validates the HWISE Scale

June 7, 2023

Researchers at Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health (INSP) led a paper validating the HWISE scale in Mexico, based on data from the large National Health and Nutrition Survey (ENSANUT).

Sera Young Speaks at Foreign Policy Summit

April 26, 2023

Sera Young spoke at the Foreign Policy Climate Summit about her research on water insecurity. "I would argue that water insecurity has been invisible for a long time because we haven't been measuring it at the level of the human," she said.

Thought Leaders Gather in Mexico City to Discuss Water and Food Insecurity

April 21, 2023
On April 21 and 22, 2023, Northwestern University hosted a key regional meeting in Mexico City in partnership with Universidad Iberoamericana and Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health to develop a consensus around measurements of food and water insecurity.

WISE Scales Go to Australia

February 20, 2023

The WISE scales are making an appearance in Australia. Community groups are using the WISE Scales to measure disparities in water insecurity within Australia, and at the Next Water Australia meeting there was great interest in using the scales throughout the country.

Food and Water Insecurity

February 15, 2023
The connections between experiences with water and food insecurity are now being recognized in the U.S. as well as globally. “We need to build a bridge between those two disciplines," Sera Young said in a recent article that ran in Mother Jones. The only way to truly understand water insecurity, she explained, is to consider people’s lived experiences as clinicians have learned to do with food access.

Study Demonstrates the Link Between Water Insecurity and Food Insecurity

January 16, 2023
In a 25-country study with FAO, Young and her colleagues demonstrate that experiencing water insecurity is associated with a two to three times greater odds of being moderately-to-severely food insecure. This means that if we care about food security, we must pay attention to water security.

Senator Durbin and Water Insecurity

December 14, 2022
Sera Young and colleagues spent a Friday afternoon with Senator Richard Durbin and his staff to discuss water insecurity. It is wonderful to see that the Senator is committed to water security for all, both domestically and internationally.

Water Insecurity is Stressing Mental Health

November 17, 2022
Axios highlighted a new study by Sera Young that investigates who experiences the highest rates of water insecurity in 31 countries by going beyond "measuring water in terms of what we can touch ... to measuring individual experiences."

New Lancet Planetary Health Study Published

November 10, 2022

The Lancet Lancet Planetary Health published a study with data describing experiences of water insecurity among half the world’s population using the IWISE Scale. See the accompanying policy brief to learn about the surprising findings related to gender and urbanicity.

UNC Water and Health Meeting

October 24, 2022
The WISE Scales were well-represented at UNC Water and Health Conference in October; the session on the use of the scales generated enormous enthusiasm across academics and practitioners.

The IWISE-4 is Valid, Reliable, and Cross-Country Equivalent

September 12, 2022

When survey space is tight, 4 of the 12 IWISE items can be administered to establish the prevalence of water insecurity in just 1 minute. For severity of water insecurity, stick with the 12-item IWISE Scale. The WISE researchers appreciate the Journal of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Development for their commitment to open-access publishing.

WISE Scales Featured at World Water Week

August 1, 2022
The WISE Scales were featured in three different panels during Stockholm World Water Week. Videos of these sessions will be posted online soon.

Brazilian Research Network on Food and Nutrition Sovereignty and Security Adds HWISE Scale to Survey

July 12, 2022

The Brazilian Research Network on Food and Nutrition Sovereignty and Security added the HWISE Scale to their nationally representative survey of food insecurity and COVID. Face-to-face surveys were done with 12,745 households from November 2021–April 2022. Initial results can be found here.

Experiences with Water Insecurity Need Measured in Clinics, Schools, and Prisons

June 20, 2022
Experiences with water insecurity need measured in clinics, schools, and prisons, too! WISE researchers are collaborating with Helvetas and the Swiss Water and Sanitation Consortium to review tools for measuring experiences with WASH in institutions, with an eye towards creating a short, reliable, validated, and equivalent tool. Check out their blog post here.

New Research Shows that Food Insecurity and Water Insecurity are Connected

May 9, 2022
Results of a 25-country study led by UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Northwestern University, and University of South Carolina show that individuals who are food insecure are much more likely to be water insecure, even after controlling for known confounders. These findings were presented at an IFAD conference in Rome and at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting.

Sera Young Discusses Water Insecurity with Indonesian Delegation

May 1, 2022

Sera Young met with Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, to discuss the WISE Scales when his delegation visited Northwestern University.

IPCC Sixth Assessment Report Highlights the Value of Measuring Water Insecurity

April 4, 2022
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report highlighted the value of experiential measures of water insecurity.

WISE Scales Featured at 9th World Water Forum

March 14, 2022
The WISE Scales have been selected by the World Water Council to be featured at the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal. 

HWISE Implemented in Mexican Homes to Capture Data on Water Insecurity

March 7, 2022
The HWISE Scale has been implemented in approximately 12,000 households as part of the Government of Mexico’s 2021 National Health and Nutrition Survey (ENSANUT). These data will give unprecedented insights into how water insecurity is associated with a range of health and nutrition outcomes. 

Water Insecurity in Mexico

February 16, 2022
In collaboration with Iberoamericana University, Yale, Acción Ciudadana Frente a la Pobreza, and others, the HWISE Scale was implemented in a nationally representative survey in Mexico in October 2021, and revealed that 32% of households were water insecure (IWISE score of 12 or higher). This story was covered by the leading Mexico City newspaper. The press release, at which the president the president of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) spoke, is found here.