Gendered experiences of household water insecurity in the UK

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Civil Engineering


- The research challenge is to define and measure the experience of HWI in the UK. The UK is a novel context for this type of study, and the manifestations of HWI may be different to those in more established research contexts. Intra-household social and gendered dynamics are central to this research. These power dynamics are recognised in water research based in the Global South, but data is on this limited in all global contexts.

- This research is important because HWI or associated conditions are generally not perceived to exist in the UK. Additionally, gender inequality in the home is not considered a political or social priority, even though research into domestic life during Covid-19 lockdowns showed that large disparities still exist and tend to increase during times of crisis.

- We do not know the extent to which water insecurity affects experiences of deprivation in low-income households. The impacts of racial and socioeconomic factors upon HWI have not been studied in the UK. Additionally, the relationship between water access and usage in the home and domestic gender inequality is largely unknown.

- The project will be carried out by reviewing the existing literature from a decolonial feminist perspective. This will enable an informed methodology for a UK case study that will investigate the water insecurity experiences of vulnerable households and the intra-household dynamics at play.

- The impact will be establishing tentative conditions for HWI in the UK, as well as revealing some of the experiences faced by low-income households regarding water access and use. Another desired impact will be the application of a decolonising methodology, by utilising a metric largely designed for the development sector in a high-income context. The hope is that this will raise awareness and contribute to discourse on how to go about decolonising international development.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022066/1 31/05/2019 30/11/2027
2439258 Studentship EP/S022066/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Ruth Emily Sylvester