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The Graaff-Reinet municipal location: unemployment and poor relief during the Great Depression of 1929-1933.
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By focusing on a medium-sized rural town in South Africa during the period of the Great Depression broadly resulted in showing the effects and reactions that were, in general, indicative of worldwide trends but with specific regional and local impact. The core focus of this article then being those effects on a further microcosm of urban life, the residents of the Graaff-Reinet municipal “location” (township); the efforts to assist these residents as occupying the lowest rungs of the economic ladder; and the efforts through welfare charities and unemployment/poor relief schemes to alleviate the situation in town. But many of these charitable organisations themselves felt the pinch of “hard times” and as a consequence had to further curtail their poor relief programmes, which lead to further hardships for the “poorest of the poor” in town. This article further examines the efforts by various official bodies, inter alia the Town and Divisional Councils, to provide unemployment relief work via a number of work schemes. Among the latter were the road building projects in town and district, and the brickmaking scheme (which provided all the bricks for the building of the new power station started in June 1934).