Data rescue of historical data on forced removals in South Africa | Land Portal
Rick de Satge
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The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) research data service DataFirst is an internationally-certified African repository, having been awarded a CoreTrustSeal endorsement in 2018

DataFirst is a research data service dedicated to giving open access to data from South Africa and other African countries. It promotes high quality research by providing the essential Open Research Data infrastructure for discovering and accessing data and by developing skills among prospective users, particularly in South Africa. DataFirst undertakse research on the quality and usability of national data and encourage data usage and data sharing.

DataFirst offers researchers online access to survey and administrative microdata from South Africa and other African countries, assisting them via an online helpdesk and other formal training courses in microdata analysis. DataFirst also trains African data managers in microdata curation, and conducts research on the quality and usability of South African microdata.

DataFirst has partnered with the Accelerated Data Program to support microdata access in other African countries. Currently a number of African data producers share their microdata with researchers.

In the land sector back in 2018  a partnership between the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) DataFirst research data service, the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU) and Rhodes Library at Rhodes University (RU), UCT Libraries, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) recued and digitised two valuable historical datasets.

The first was a government survey of rural villages in Keiskammahoek in South Africa conducted in 1948-1950.

The second is a 1980-1981 survey of households who were victims of apartheid-era forced removals, conducted by an NGO, the Surplus People Project. The records from these surveys were in storage for decades and were in danger of being lost due to physical decay. DataFirst recovered this rich historical data for new analyses. 

The datasets are available online:

Keiskammahoek Rural Survey 1948-1950 
Surplus People Project Survey 1980-1981 


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