A water security assessment aims to enhance the understanding of water risks within a defined water security improvement (WSI) space (defined geography, actors, and risks). The approach and focus of a water security assessment process is informed and guided by the WSI space; it can be as exhaustive, specific, or rapid as necessary, depending on stakeholder priorities and the water-related risks they want to address. The assessment is conducted from a risk perspective that identifies potential hazards, their likelihood and severity, the vulnerable populations or areas, and the resulting criticality of the risks.
Conducting a water security assessment is an essential step in the process of addressing water risks. It establishes a common and agreed-upon information base on the severity and extent of water risks, now and in the near future. This information will be the foundation for the planning, implementation, and monitoring of water security activities. It is also a critical justification to ensure support from funders and governing authorities.
The assessment must follow the eight WSI guiding practices:
A specific requirement for the water security assessment is to be timely and pragmatic. This is about finding an “optimal balance” between producing a detailed and exhaustive understanding of the water security situation and providing adequate and timely information to define and implement tangible activities to address priority water risks. Stakeholder perceptions of the magnitude and urgency of current water risks and associated priorities are the deciding factor.
After initial review of existing knowledge to identify gaps, the gathering of additional information is conducted through data collection on water and related themes, field surveys, key interviews, and targeted field and technical studies. Where possible, using computer-based geographic information systems and models can help to visualize and analyze the water security situation.