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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Gina Porter

Porter, G., Hampshire, K., Dunn, C., Hall, R. Levesley, M., Burton, K., Robson,S., Abane, A., Blell, M. & Panther, J. (2013). Health impacts of pedestrian headloading: a review of the evidence with particular reference to women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. Social Science & Medicine 88: 90-97.

Author(s) from Durham


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. We 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; we also draw from our own research. Key knowledge gaps and areas for future research are highlighted.