Paper: Expanding the utility of seasonal surveys – Including Household Water In-Security Experience (HWISE) in nutrition and food security analysis in humanitarian settings

Paper details

Paper authors Nancy Balfour
In panel on Novel and innovative approaches to advance health research in humanitarian crises.
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


Centre for Humanitarian Change is gathering experience and building evidence of what works in fragile areas, including exploring ways to more efficiently turn evidence into action. This study was designed to complement research being carried out by Tufts University and CHC on Improving Food Security Analysis in Acute Crises . Specifically, the study sort to examine the feasibility of including other minimal data to strengthen the analysis of food security and nutrition severity which underpins the identification of famine risk. Food security analysis has long been dependent on a handful of outcome variables. Better overall humanitarian decision-making would be facilitated by inclusion of additional outcomes, primarily information about health and WASH indicators. The practical considerations are around cost and time efficiency compared to usefulness of the additional information.
The study involved adopting an adaptation of an already existing water security index, HWISE , which had been tested in a research programme in Kenya and adding it to existing survey instruments (SMART surveys). The 2018 Kenya study used formative research to adapt a 26 item scale to focus on 14 questions which were most relevant to ASAL livelihoods. The adapted HWISE scale was then added to the standard SMART survey instrument and tested in two different field contexts (West Pokot, Kenya and Gogrial, South Sudan) to explore two dimensions. The first is simple feasibility: Do the indicators work? How much time do they add to survey implementation? The second is the usefulness of the additional information.
Results show that the HWISE tool is relatively easy to use and only added approximately 4 minutes to the survey. The recently developed, shorter, four question, humanitarian HWISE would be more feasible. The additional information provided more granularity on water access information and identified pockets of insecurity and household stress within areas where standard WASH indicators showed a relatively good WASH situation. A strong correlation between water insecurity and food insecurity was found in both sites but relatively weak correlation with malnutrition.



Nancy Balfour
Centre for Humanitarian Change