Sera Lewise Young

Sera Lewise Young
Northwestern University | NU · Department of Anthropology

MA, PhD

About

250
Publications
57,710
Reads
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7,014
Citations
Citations since 2017
140 Research Items
6120 Citations
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201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
Additional affiliations
August 2016 - present
Northwestern University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
July 2011 - August 2015
Cornell University
Position
  • Researcher
July 2010 - June 2011
University of California, San Francisco
Position
  • Reproductive Infectious Disease Fellow

Publications

Publications (250)
Article
Water security requires not only sufficient availability of and access to safe and acceptable quality for domestic uses, but also fair distribution within and across populations. However, a key research gap remains in understanding water security inequality and its dynamics, which in turn creates an impediment to tracking progress towards sustainab...
Chapter
How to engage farmers that have limited formal education is at the foundation of environmentally-sound and equitable agricultural development. Yet there are few examples of curricula that support the co-development of knowledge with farmers. While transdisciplinary and participatory techniques are considered key components of agroecology, how to do...
Article
Full-text available
This article quantifies Daasanach water insecurity experiences in northern Kenya, examines how water insecurity is associated with water borrowing and psychosocial stress, and evaluates if water borrowing mitigates the stress from water insecurity. Of 133 households interviewed in seven communities, 94.0% were water insecure and 74.4% borrowed wate...
Article
Full-text available
Positive agricultural and food policy environments are critically important to the success and inclusiveness of agricultural growth and transformation. Despite the catalytic potential of enabling policies, countries vary in their willingness, capacity, and ability to improve policy: in other words they have varying degrees of policy readiness. The...
Article
Full-text available
The 12-item Water Insecurity Experiences Scales provide high resolution, cross-context equivalent data on household and individual water insecurity. A 4-item, 1-minute version of the Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE-4) Scale has proven useful for understanding the prevalence of household water insecurity experiences when limited resour...
Article
Despite improvements in infant feeding practices over the past two decades, the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is below global targets. Social support can create an enabling environment for recommended infant feeding practices such as EBF, but the types of social support most important for sustained EBF and their potential mechanisms o...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Water plays a critical role in the production of food and preparation of nutritious meals, yet few studies have examined the relationship between water and food insecurity. The primary objective of this study, therefore, was to examine how experiences of household water insecurity (HWI) relate to experiences of household food insecurity (...
Article
Full-text available
Water security requires not only sufficient availability of and access to safe and acceptable quality for domestic uses, but also fair distribution within and across populations. However, a key research gap remains in understanding water security inequality and its dynamics, which in turn creates an impediment to tracking progress towards sustainab...
Article
Background Food insecurity has profound nutritional and public health consequences. Water insecurity may exacerbate food insecurity, yet little is known about the association between water and food insecurity in the US or other high-income countries. Objective This study aimed to 1) estimate how tap water avoidance, a proxy of water insecurity, co...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Although water insecurity and food insecurity may be related via various pathways, this relationship has received little attention. Knowing where and among whom water and food insecurities coexist is critical for developing nutrition interventions and policies that are not undermined by concurrent problems with water. The objective of th...
Article
Full-text available
Reliable access to safe and acceptable water in sufficient quantities (i.e., water security) is important for medication adherence and limiting pathogen exposure, yet prior studies have only considered the role of food security as a social determinant of HIV-related health. Therefore, the objective of this analysis was to assess the relationships b...
Article
Anthropological theories of reciprocity suggest it enhances prestige, social solidarity, and material security. Yet, some ethnographic cases suggest that water sharing-a form of reciprocity newly gaining scholarly attention-might work in the opposite way, increasing conflict and emotional distress. Using cross-cultural survey data from twenty globa...
Preprint
This article quantifies Daasanach water insecurity experiences in Northern Kenya, examines how water insecurity is associated with water borrowing and psychosocial stress, and evaluates if water borrowing mitigates the stress from water insecurity. Of 133 households interviewed in 7 communities, 95% were water insecure and 74.4% borrowed water thre...
Article
Full-text available
Evaluating the human health and well-being effects of emerging technologies is essential. Yet, data to support rigorous evaluation of these effects through social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) are lacking, especially at local or regional rather than national scales. As a consequence, technologies and policies that use emerging technologies may driv...
Article
Full-text available
Water-related indicators have predominantly focused on water availability and water infrastructure; experiences with water access and use have received far less attention. However, the assessment of water security using disaggregated indicators that are more proximal to the human experience, i.e., household and individual access and use, has enormo...
Article
Full-text available
Objective The lack of a validated and cross-culturally equivalent scale for measuring individual-level water insecurity has prevented identification of those most vulnerable to it. Therefore, we developed the 12-item Individual Water InSecurity Experiences (IWISE) Scale to comparably measure individual experiences with access, use, and stability (r...
Article
Water is critical to health and wellbeing. Studies have theorized that problems with water can become embodied, yet few studies have quantified this. Therefore, we first sought to understand the lowland Bolivian water environment of Tsimane’ forager-horticulturalists. We assessed the water environment holistically, using objective measures of water...
Article
Full-text available
Household survey data from 27 sites in 22 countries were collected in 2017–2018 in order to construct and validate a cross-cultural household-level water insecurity scale. The resultant Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) scale presents a useful tool for monitoring and evaluating water interventions as a complement to traditional metrics...
Preprint
Full-text available
Poor drinking water quality is a global crisis that affects billions of individuals. Understanding who is most impacted is necessary to develop programs that ensure sustainable, reliable, and resilient access to safe water. But current water indicators do not capture people’s experienced and anticipated harm from drinking water, which means we have...
Article
Full-text available
Water is an essential nutrient that has primarily been considered in terms of its physiological necessity. But reliable access to water in sufficient quantities and quality is also critical for many nutrition-related behaviors and activities, including growing and cooking diverse foods. Given growing challenges to water availability and safety, inc...
Article
Objectives Water insecurity may coincide with and exacerbate food insecurity and poor nutrition and health. The Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale permits quantification and comparison of water access and use across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). With Gallup and UNESCO, we collected the first nationally representative d...
Article
Objectives Household water insecurity may exacerbate poor nutrition (e.g., via limited water to produce or prepare preferred foods) and health, but comparable quantification of water access and use has only recently become possible. We therefore aimed to assess the prevalence of household water insecurity and estimate its association with dietary d...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives HIV-exposed and uninfected (HEU) infants may experience altered growth compared to HIV-unexposed and uninfected (HUU) infants. Most studies to date have used analytic techniques that do not reflect the dynamic trends in infant growth patterns. We therefore sought to evaluate growth patterns using 3 different analytic methods and examine...
Article
Background Food insecurity (FI) is common globally and can have lifelong consequences. However, few studies have longitudinally examined how FI varies across gestation and the postpartum period (“the first 1000 days”); none have explored this in sub-Saharan Africa or in the context of HIV. Objective To assess the prevalence and covariates of FI in...
Article
Full-text available
Background There are urgent calls for the transformation of agriculture and food systems to address human and planetary health issues. Nutrition-sensitive agriculture and agroecology promise interconnected solutions to these challenges, but evidence of their impact has been limited. Objectives In a cluster-randomized trial (NCT02761876), we examin...
Article
Full-text available
Background Although recent policies have sought to increase the rates of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) and continued breastfeeding for HIV exposed infants, few programs have considered the multiple social and cultural barriers to the practice. Therefore, to generate evidence for exclusive and continued breastfeeding policies in Kenya, we examined c...
Article
Full-text available
We sought to determine whether a shortened version of the 12-item Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale, which measures water insecurity equivalently in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), is valid for broad use. Using data from 9,261 households in 25 LMICs, subsets of candidate items were evaluated on their predictive accuracy,...
Article
Objective To investigate if food security mediated the impact of a nutrition-sensitive agroecology intervention on women’s depressive symptoms. Design We used annual longitudinal data (4 time points) from a cluster-randomized effectiveness trial of a participatory nutrition-sensitive agroecology intervention, the Singida Nutrition and Agroecology...
Article
Background Household food insecurity (FI) and water insecurity (WI) are prevalent public health issues that can co-occur. Few studies have concurrently assessed their associations with health outcomes, particularly among people living with HIV. Objectives We aimed to investigate the associations between FI and WI and how they relate to physical an...
Article
Full-text available
Food insecurity (FI) is an understudied risk factor for depression among perinatal women in sub-Saharan Africa. We therefore explored the longitudinal relationship between FI and depressive symptoms among a cohort of perinatal women of mixed HIV status (n = 371) in Kenya (NCT02974972, NCT02979418). Using longitudinal linear and logistic regressions...
Article
Full-text available
Water security is a powerful concept that is still in its early days in the field of nutrition. Given the prevalence and severity of water issues and the many interconnections between water and nutrition, we argue that water security deserves attention commensurate with its importance to human nutrition and health. To this end, we first give a brie...
Article
In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a set of public guidelines for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) prevention measures that highlighted handwashing, physical distancing, and household cleaning. These health behaviors are severely compromised in parts of the world that lack secure water supplies, particularly in low- and mi...
Chapter
Water security, which includes water availability, accessibility, use, and stability, is fundamental for health and well-being. Measures of experiential water security have only recently been developed and their implementation has revealed that water security is critical for good nutrition. After reviewing the history and conceptualization of water...
Article
Full-text available
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
Background: Breastfeeding is recommended to improve maternal and infant health globally. Depression has been posited to negatively impact breastfeeding, although potential causal and bidirectional pathways between these two phenomena have not been sufficiently characterized. We therefore conducted a systematic review to critically evaluate availabl...
Article
Full-text available
Safe and secure water is a cornerstone of modern life in the global North. This article critically examines a set of prevalent myths about household water in high‐income countries, with a focus on Canada and the United States. Taking a relational approach, we argue that household water insecurity is a product of institutionalized structures and pow...
Article
Full-text available
We sought to determine whether a shortened version of the 12-item Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) Scale, which measures water insecurity equivalently in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), is valid for broad use. Using data from 9,261 households in 25 LMICs, subsets of candidate items were evaluated on their predictive accuracy...
Article
Household food and water insecurity often co-occur, and both can lead to malnutrition, psycho-emotional stress, and increased risk of infectious and chronic diseases. This can occur through multiple pathways including poor diet and inadequate sanitation. In this perspective, we discuss the potential advantages of a syndemic approach to understandin...
Article
Full-text available
Food insecurity (FI), low social support, and low health-related quality of life (HRQoL) are associated with self-reported nonadherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) among postpartum women, but these relationships have not been evaluated using objective adherence indicators. Hair samples were therefore analyzed among 83 postpartum Kenyan women li...
Article
Full-text available
Water problems due to scarcity, inaccessibility, or poor quality are a major barrier to household functioning, livelihood, and health globally. Household-to-household water borrowing has been posited as a strategy to alleviate unmet water needs. However, the prevalence and predictors of this practice have not been systematically examined. Therefore...
Article
Household water insecurity is a complex socioecological challenge with a range of consequences for health and wellbeing. Understanding individual and household‐level coping strategies, i.e., responses or adaptations to manage water insecurity, can shape future research and development practice. We therefore (a) systematically describe the character...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Water fetching for household needs can cause injury, but documentation of the burden of harm globally has been limited. We described the frequency, characteristics and correlates of water-fetching injuries in 24 sites in 21 low-income and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. Methods In a survey...
Article
Hand hygiene is critical for reducing transmission of communicable diseases, as we are so acutely aware during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF has identified behaviour change and knowledge promotion as top strategies for increasing handwashing during this crisis, while acknowledging that millions of people lack the water necessary for handwashing.
Article
Geophagy, the intentional consumption of soil, has been observed in humans and numerous other animal species. Geophagy has been posited to be adaptive, i.e., consumed soil protects against gastrointestinal distress and/or supplements micronutrients. We conducted a field experiment in the Budongo Forest, Uganda, to investigate geophagic behaviors, i...
Article
Water is imperative for nutrition and health, economic productivity, and political stability; it also holds cultural and symbolic meanings and functions. Household water insecurity is an emerging construct that captures lived experiences with water access, use, and acceptability. Although the plausibility of household water insecurity to “get under...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Although the baby-friendly community initiative (BFCI) has been proposed as a community-level approach to improve infant feeding practices, there is little data on its variation in effectiveness by HIV status. We conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of BFCI in changing knowledge and attitudes towards exclusive breastfeeding...
Article
Full-text available
Despite evidence that tap water is often safer and cheaper than alternative sources, tap water is avoided when perceived to be unsafe. Therefore, we conducted the first nationally representative U.S. trends analysis of in‐home tap water avoidance between 2007 and 2016. We tested whether changes occurred during/after the Flint water crisis, and whet...
Article
Full-text available
This issue of the UNC Water Institute WaSH Policy Research Digest explores the strengths and weaknesses of a newly published tool for assessing household scale water insecurity, the "HWISE Scale".
Article
Background: HIV-uninfected infants of HIV-positive women may experience worse growth and health outcomes than infants of HIV-negative women, but this has not been thoroughly investigated under the WHO's most recent recommendations to reduce vertical transmission. Objective: To determine if HIV-exposed and -uninfected (HEU) infants whose mothers...
Article
Full-text available
In recent weeks, people all over the world have been settling into a ‘new normal’ of restricted mobility, online working, social distancing and enhanced hand hygiene. As part of the global fight against the spread of COVID-19 (the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2), we are repeatedly reminded by public health authorities that frequent and thorough hand-...
Article
Full-text available
Stress and food insecurity (FI) are associated with poor perinatal and HIV outcomes. We hypothesized that FI would increase postpartum stress among women in Kenya, and that the impact would be greater in women with HIV. Among 371 pregnant women, we identified latent FI trajectories across the perinatal period, and estimated their association with p...
Article
Objectives To determine if HIV-exposed and -uninfected (HEU) infants whose mothers received Option B + have higher odds of experiencing suboptimal growth trajectories than HIV-unexposed uninfected (HUU) infants. Methods Anthropometric measures were taken on 238 infants (HEU = 86) at 1 week and 1,3,6,9, and 12 months. Latent class growth mixture mo...
Article
Objectives In 2015, depressive disorders led to over 50 million disability-adjusted life years lost globally, with more than 80% occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Depressive disorders are also risk factors of a number of adverse maternal and child health outcomes. To our knowledge, the Singida Nutrition and Agroecology Project (SNAP-Tz...
Article
Objectives Nutrition-sensitive agricultural interventions are theorized to improve child's diet through asset provision and program participation. Although some programs measure participation, predictors of participation are understudied. We therefore investigated predictors of men's and women's program participation in Singida Nutrition and Agroec...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Food insecurity (FI) is recognized as an important predictor of a range of health outcomes, including HIV acquisition and progression. Less is understood about the drivers of FI during the first 1000 days. Therefore we assessed the prevalence and covariates of FI among women of mixed HIV status in southwestern Kenya from pregnancy to 21...
Article
Recently developed scales aim to advance understanding of household water insecurity and inform interventions to address this critical global problem. The relative severity of items included in household water insecurity scales has been established as an inverse of the proportion of the population that reports experiencing the item. Here, we assess...
Article
Objectives This study compared the prevalence of concentrated urine (urine specific gravity ≥1.021), an indicator of hypohydration, across Tsimane' hunter‐forager‐horticulturalists living in hot‐humid lowland Bolivia and Daasanach agropastoralists living in hot‐arid Northern Kenya. It tested the hypotheses that household water and food insecurity w...
Article
Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease, especially for women of childbearing age. Social science scholarship has demonstrated significant relationships between mental health, food insecurity (FI), water insecurity (WI), and HIV. Little is known, however, about the tempor...
Article
Water insecurity is a condition when affordability, reliability, adequacy, or safety of water is significantly reduced or unattainable resulting in jeopardized well‐being. Water insecurity co‐occurs with poverty and social and economic exclusion. It is gaining increasing attention from the scholarly community, but most work has focused on low‐ and...
Article
Improving water governance is a top priority for addressing the global water crisis. Yet, there is a dearth of empirical data examining whether better water governance is associated with lower water insecurity and improved well-being. We, therefore, pooled household data from two Sustainable Water Effectiveness Reviews conducted by Oxfam GB in Zamb...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Women living with HIV (WLHIV) are at higher risk of micronutrient deficiencies and adverse health outcomes. There are limited data on the burden or sequelae of micronutrient deficiencies among pregnant WLHIV receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). Objectives: We aimed to examine anemia and vitamin B-12, folate, and vitamin D deficien...
Article
Full-text available
Tracking progress towards Target 6.1 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, “achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all”, necessitates the development of simple, inexpensive tools to monitor water quality. The rapidly growing field of synthetic biology has the potential to address this need...
Preprint
Objectives: The timely receipt of the recommended vaccination regimen, i.e. vaccination maintenance, is an underexplored, but important, indicator of public health. However, there is currently no standardized method for quantifying cumulative vaccination maintenance, and no simple way to explore predictors of adherence to vaccination schedules. We...
Article
Objectives The timely receipt of the recommended vaccination regimen, i.e. vaccination maintenance, is an underexplored, but important, indicator of public health. There is currently no standardized method for quantifying cumulative vaccination maintenance, however, and no simple way to explore predictors of adherence to vaccination schedules. We t...
Chapter
Across the lifetime, each person will experience and accumulate countless exposures to the natural, built, social, and chemical components of the environment. These exposures occur in many ways, through people’s behaviors and lifestyle choices (for example, smoking, diet, or level of activity), physical contact (intentional or not) with chemicals,...
Article
Full-text available
Green infrastructure (GI), which mimics natural hydrological systems, is a promising solution for flood management at the intersection of urban built infrastructure and natural systems. However, it has not yet achieved widespread uptake, due in part to insufficient understanding of human dimensions of the broader socio-ecological-technical system....
Article
Full-text available
Background: Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is recommended for all infants. However, breastfeeding rates remain suboptimal; around 37% of infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months globally. In Nyanza region, western Kenya, numerous challenges to breastfeeding have been identified, including food insecurity...
Article
Full-text available
Geophagy, the intentional consumption of earth materials, has been recorded in humans and other animals. It has been hypothesized that geophagy is an adaptive behavior, and that clay minerals commonly found in eaten soil can provide protection from toxins and/or supplement micronutrients. To test these hypotheses, we monitored chimpanzee geophagy u...
Article
Billions of people globally, living with various degrees of water insecurity, obtain their household and drinking water from diverse sources that can absorb a disproportionate amount of a household's income. In theory, there are income and expenditure thresholds associated with effective mitigation of household water insecurity, but there is little...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: Infant feeding plays a critical role in child health and development. Few studies to date have examined the link between household water insecurity and infant feeding, and none in a cross-cultural context. Therefore, we examined the perceived impact of household water insecurity in four domains: breastfeeding, non-breastmilk feeding, c...
Poster
Full-text available
The burden of disease from direct environmental causes is significantly higher in developing countries, where solid fuel use is predominant than in developed countries. However, the mechanism by which this happens has not been thoroughly examined. Therefore, this study examined the multiple health effects associated with the use of solid fuel stove...
Article
The contemporary international development agenda addresses several important gender issues, including the contribution of unpaid care work (UCW) to human well-being. The inclusion of UCW into the mainstream policy debate is undoubtedly a major milestone in the history of feminist scholarship and activism. However, we argue that the universalistic...
Article
Full-text available
How to engage farmers that have limited formal education is at the foundation of environmentally-sound and equitable agricultural development. Yet there are few examples of curricula that support the co-development of knowledge with farmers. While transdisciplinary and participatory techniques are considered key components of agroecology, how to do...
Article
Background: The increase in frequency and intensity of urban flooding is a global challenge. Flooding directly impacts residents of industrialized cities with aging combined sewer systems, as well as cities with less centralized infrastructure to manage stormwater, fecal sludge, and wastewater. Green infrastructure is growing in popularity as a su...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Progress towards equitable and sufficient water has primarily been measured by population-level data on water availability. However, higher-resolution measures of water accessibility, adequacy, reliability and safety (ie, water insecurity) are needed to understand how problems with water impact health and well-being. Therefore, we develop...