The socio-economic impact of drought in the period 1924-1934 on the magisterial district of Vanrhynsdorp

Rademan, Daniel Johannes Rouxan (2020-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Drought in the historiography of South Africa was often rationalised as a cause for historical events, with little to no accompanying localisation of impacts. This creates a distinct gap in South African literature for more in-depth studies on the impacts of drought. The socioeconomic impacts associated with the poorly contextualised 1924 to 1934 period in the Vanrhynsdorp district was evaluated to identify the specific contribution of drought to these impacts. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods was utilised to confirm that a prolonged period of substandard precipitation, accompanied by social and economic impacts, occurred in the semi-arid district between 1924 and 1930. The resulting drop in crop and livestock produce between 1923-1925 and 1927-1930 led to food and income insecurity, causing social disruptions within households as economically active members left their homes to find more secure livelihoods. The pre-existing unproductive, indebted and impoverished population, as well as the poor infrastructure and services served to exacerbate the direct social and economic impacts of the drought. The impact of the drought was further aggravated by the failure of relief attempts provided by both government and private organisations, which can be ascribed to relief measures being underfunded, late, unfair, expensive and unsustainable and lacking coordination between relief organisations. The distress led to a migration of people from the more drought prone Northern regions of the district to the banks of the Olifants River in the South in search of employment and a higher quality of life. Although the meteorological drought ended in 1930, the economic consequences of the subsequent Great Depression between 1930 and 1934 prolonged the recovery of the district and led to further socio-economic distress and migration. The study therefore confirms the severe socio-economic impact of drought on the district of Vanrhynsdorp, particularly in the period 1924 to 1930.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Droogte in die geskiedskrywing van Suid-Afrika word dikwels gerasionaliseer as oorsaak vir historiese gebeure, met min tot geen gepaardgaande lokalisering van die gevolge daarvan. Dit skep 'n duidelike leemte in die Suid-Afrikaanse literatuur vir meer in-diepte studies oor die gevolge van droogte. Die sosio-ekonomiese gevolge wat verband hou met die swak gedefinieerde periode van 1924 tot 1934 in die distrik Vanrhynsdorp, is geëvalueer om diespesifieke bydrae van die droogte tot hierdie gevolge te identifiseer. ‘n Kombinasie van kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe metodes is gebruik om te bevestig dat ‘n lang periode van ondergemiddelde reënval gelei het tot ernstige sosiale en ekonomiese gevolge tussen 1924 en 1930 in die Vanrhynsdorp-distrik. Die gevolglike daling in gewas- en veeproduksie tussen 1923-1925 en 1927-1930 het gelei tot voedsel en inkomste-onsekerheid wat maatskaplike ontwrigting by huishoudings veroorsaak het, aangesien ekonomies aktiewe lede hul huise verlaat het om op ander plekke ‘n inkomste te gaan verdien. Die bestaande onproduktiewe, skuldbelaste en verarmde bevolking, sowel as die swak infrastruktuur en dienste, het die direkte sosiale en ekonomiese gevolge van die droogte vererger. Die uitwerking van die droogte is verder vererger deur die mislukking van hulpverleningspogings deur regerings- sowel as privaatorganisasies, wat toegeskryf kan word aan hulpverleningsmaatreëls wat onderbefonds, laat, onbillik, duur en onvolhoubaar was en omdat daar geen koördinasie tussen hulporganisasies was nie. Die nood het gelei tot 'n migrasie van mense uit die Noordelike streke van die distrik na die oewer van die Olifantsrivier in die Suide op soek na werk en 'n hoër lewensgehalte. Alhoewel die meteorologiese droogte in 1930 beëindig is, het die ekonomiese gevolge van die daaropvolgende Groot Depressie tussen 1930 en 1934 die herstel van die distrik verleng en dit het tot verdere sosio-ekonomiese nood en migrasie gelei. Die studie bevestig dus die ernstige sosio-ekonomiese impak van droogte op die distrik Vanrhynsdorp, veral in die periode 1924 tot 1930.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/109358
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