Contextualizing linkages between water security and global health in Africa, Asia and Europe: Geography matters in research, policy and practice

C. Anthonj*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
131 Downloads (Pure)


The linkages between water security and global health vary in space and time. Just like water connects every aspect of life, geography relates everything to everything else. Therefore, in order to address challenges at the interface of water security and global health, the use and application of medical geography, a sub-discipline of geography, is helpful in research, policy and practice.

Using different water security pathway classifications (diminished water supply or quality, increased water demand, and extreme flood events) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and targets as a frame, this paper looks at water and health challenges from different angles and from a holistic perspective, while contextualizing them. Drawing on five practical examples, including water-related infectious disease exposure in watersheds in semi-arid Kenya, health system response in floodplains in Namibia, public health implications in a protracted emergency setting in arid Northeast Nigeria, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) monitoring in households, schools and healthcare facilities in Small Island Developing States in the South Pacific, and WASH-related challenges and disease exposures among marginalized ethnic minority populations in Europe, the applicability and usefulness of geography contextualizations in research, policy-makers and practitioners is presented. Moreover, cross-cutting topics and contextualizations, beyond water security and global health, including climate- and weather-related extreme events, inequality, health- and water-related education, risk perceptions and behaviour, and the cultural context, are highlighted to showcase the value of applying medical geography in understanding the key drivers, barriers and bottlenecks in complex situations; recommending actionable and contextualized measures to address these challenges; directing programming and interventions; and informing policy-making to tackle and solve these challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100093
Number of pages11
JournalWater Security
Early online date28 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Cultural context
  • Health inequality
  • Health risk perception
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • SDG 6
  • Science-policy interface
  • Vulnerable groups
  • WASH
  • Water
  • Health
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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