What are the factors that push households over thresholds of water insecurity — from lower levels to more severe experiences? How do we measure this shift, and what are the implications for public policy, specifically in Brazil? These questions are at the center of our paper on urban household water insecurity using survey and qualitative data from the Forquilha municipality, in the State of Ceara. We developed an index to help assess the different dimensions of water insecurity to assess the various factors that pushed households across water insecurity thresholds.
We concluded that attention to water insecurity experiences at the household level – particularly in terms of the differential dimension influence water insecurity as factors—provides necessary information to develop targeted policy interventions specific to regional characteristics and experiences. Insecurity differences across the urban center allows us to identify populations where interventions and investment may mitigate the worst impacts of drought and develop resiliency plans for those experiencing the most severe household water insecurity. That is, our approach provides policy makers with information to target those threshold domains for intervention to improve household water insecurity experiences.
In the case of Forquilha, it is possible to identify households experiencing the most water insecurity. Based on careful analysis of the factors, in times of severe drought, targeted water affordability programs paired with other interventions to address water quality concerns could reduce water insecurity. Better governance of urban standpipes could also limit the water time and distress for households. For those households experiencing moderate water insecurity, water quality concerns and safety related to water access could also be addressed to alleviate insecurity. Furthermore, water quality requires attention, which seems to be overlooked in the drought management policies. Thus, the analysis we outlined provides clearer targets to alleviate specific challenges of communities as they face uncertain climate future.