Water Insecurity in 3 Dimensions: An Anthropological Perspective on Water and Women's Psychosocial Distress in Ethiopia

Citation:

Stevenson, Edward G. J., Leslie E. Greene, Kenneth C. Maes, Argaw Ambelu, Yihenew Alemu Tesfaye, Richard Rheingans, and Craig Hadley. 2012. "Water Insecurity in 3 Dimensions: An Anthropological Perspective on Water and Women's Psychosocial Distress in Ethiopia." Social Science & Medicine 75 (2): 392-400.

Authors: Edward G. J. Stevenson, Leslie E. Greene, Kenneth C. Maes, Argaw Ambelu, Yihenew Alemu Tesfaye, Richard Rheingans, Craig Hadley

Abstract:

Water insecurity is a primary underlying determinant of global health disparities. While public health research on water insecurity has focused mainly on two dimensions, water access and adequacy, an anthropological perspective highlights the cultural or lifestyle dimension of water insecurity, and its implications for access/adequacy and for the phenomenology of water insecurity. Recent work in Bolivia has shown that scores on a water insecurity scale derived from ethnographic observations are associated with emotional distress. We extend this line of research by assessing the utility of a locally developed water insecurity scale, compared with standard measures of water access and adequacy, in predicting women's psychosocial distress in Ethiopia. In 2009-2010 we conducted two phases of research. Phase I was mainly qualitative and designed to identify locally relevant experiences of water insecurity, and Phase II used a quantitative survey to test the association between women's reported water insecurity and the Falk Self-Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ-F), a measure of psychosocial distress. In multiple regression models controlling for food insecurity and reported quantity of water used, women's water insecurity scores were significantly associated with psychosocial distress. Including controls for time required to collect water and whether water sources were protected did not further predict psychosocial distress. This approach highlights the social dimension of water insecurity, and may be useful for informing and evaluating interventions to improve water supplies.

Keywords: water insecurity, gender, psychosocial distress, mental health, Africa

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Ethiopia

Year: 2012

© 2020 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.