Across sub-Saharan Africa, women and children play major roles as pedestrian load-transporters, in the widespread absence of basic sanitation services, electricity and affordable/reliable motorised transport. The majority of loads, including water and firewood for domestic purposes, are carried on the head. Load-carrying has implications not only for school attendance and performance, women’s time budgets and gender relations, but arguably also for health and well-being. The authors report findings from a comprehensive review of relevant literature, undertaken June-September 2012, focussing particularly on biomechanics, maternal health, and the psycho-social impacts of load-carrying; they also draw from our own research. Key knowledge gaps and areas for future research are highlighted.
Porter, G.; Hampshire, K.; Dunn, C.; Hall, R.; Levesley, M.; Burton, K.; Robson, S.; Abane, A.; Blell, M.; Panthe, J. Health impacts of pedestrian head-loading: A review of the evidence with particular reference to women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. Social Science and Medicine (2013) 88: 90-97. [DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.04.010]