In the widespread absence of basic sanitation services, electricity and affordable/reliable motorised transport across sub-Saharan Africa, women and children play major roles as pedestrian load-transporters.
Professor Kim Buton of the University of Huddersfield, has coauthored an international study to look at the health impacts that this practice can have.
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 paper reports 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.