In their contribution to the “Chancing the Storm” series, Amber Wutich and Wendy Jepson address how water insecurity promulgates various forms of uncertainty that impact households in both the Global North and South. Drawing on their multinational research, they show how insecurity is experienced differently, depending on geographical, political, and economic conditions—where water comes from, whether households or municipalities can invest in water infrastructure, or whether residents can afford water. Yet, across different contexts, uncertainty is both a driver and consequence of water insecurity. Wutich and Jepson demonstrate how social science contributes to understanding how these dynamics can open up new channels for community-centered water management.
Wendy Jepson is a University Professor in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University where she has been on faculty since receiving her PhD in Geography from UCLA in 2003. Her research addresses contemporary debates in political ecology, human-environment interactions, and water security and governance. Jepson leads several research projects and institutional initiatives on water security. Jepson was a recent Fulbright Scholar (2016–2017, Brazil), and continues this relationship as a Visiting Professor at the Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza. She also is a recipient of several National Science Foundation grants that focus on water security—examining different aspects of water insecurity in south Texas colonias and urban Brazil. Jepson leads the NSF-funded Household Water Insecurity Experiences–Research Coordination Network (HWISE-RCN), an international community of scholars and practitioners dedicated to advance research and work in the interdisciplinary field of water insecurity. Jepson also is the principal investigator for a $1.5M Texas A&M University Presidential Excellence Grant, “Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security: Desalination and Water Reuse.” She has generated over $3 million in grants and awards as lead PI from NSF, private sources, and internal awards to support her research agenda.