A royal decree issued in 1910 , two years after the Belgian government assumed authority for the administration of the Congo , prescribed the registration of all adult males by chiefdoms .
Further decrees along this line were issued in 1916 and 1919 .
In 1922 a continuous registration of the whole indigenous population was instituted by ordinance of the Governor-General , and the periodic compilation of these records was ordered .
But specific procedures for carrying out this plan were left to the discretion of the provincial governors .
A unified set of regulations , applicable to all areas , was issued in 1929 , and a complementary series of demographic inquiries in selected areas was instituted at the same time .
The whole system was again reviewed and reorganized in 1933 .
General responsibility for its administration rested with a division of the colonial government concerned with labor supply and native affairs , Service des Affaires Indigenes et de la Main-d'Oeuvre ( AIMO , Af Direction , Af Direction Generale , Gouvernement Generale ) .
Tribal authorities , the chiefs and their secretaries , were held responsible for maintaining the registers of indigenous persons within their territories , under the general supervision of district officials .
The district officials , along with their other duties , were obliged to organize special demographic inquiries in selected areas and to supervise the annual tabulations of demographic statistics .
The regulations require the inscription of each individual ( male or female , adult or child ) on a separate card ( fiche ) .
The cards , filed by circonscription ( sub-chiefdom , or village ) , are kept in the headquarters of each territoire ( chiefdom ) .
Each card is expected to show certain information about the individual concerned , including his or her date of birth ( or age at a specified time ) , spouses , and children .
Additional entries must be made from time to time .
Different cards are used for males and females , and a corner is clipped from the cards of adults , and of children when they reach puberty .
So a quick count could be made at any time , even by an illiterate clerk , of the number of registered persons in four age-and-sex classes .
Personal identification cards are issued to all adult males on which tax payments , inoculations , periods of employment , and changes of residence are recorded .
Similar identification cards were issued in 1959 to all adult females .
Each adult is held personally responsible for assuring his inscription and obtaining an identification card which must be shown on demand .
The registration card of a person leaving his home territory for a short period is put into a special file for absent persons .
The cards of permanent out-migrants are , in theory , sent to an office in the place of new residence .
Finally , the registration of births and deaths by nearest relatives was made compulsory in most regions .
Numbers of registered persons in four age-and-sex classes were counted each year .
In addition , demographic inquiries , supposedly involving field investigations , were conducted in selected minor divisions ( circonscriptions ) containing about 3 percent of the total population .
The results of these inquiries were used to adjust compilations of data from the registers and to provide various ratios and rates by districts , including birth and death rates , general fertility rates , distributions by marital status , fertility of wives separately in polygynous and non-polygynous households , infant mortality , and migration .
The areas to be examined in these inquiries were selected by local officials , supposedly as representative of a larger population .
Averages of the ratios obtained in a few selected areas were applied to the larger population .
The scheme , in theory , is an ingenious adaptation of European registration systems to the conditions of African life .
But it places a severe strain on the administrative resources ( already burdened in other ways ) of a widely dispersed , poor and largely illiterate population .
The sampling program was instituted before the principles of probability sampling were widely recognized in population studies .
The system was not well adapted to conditions of life in urban centers .
The distinction between domiciled ( de jure ) and present ( de facto ) population was not clearly defined .
So the results are subject to considerable confusion .
The system tended to break down during the war , but was reactivated ; ;
it had reached the pre-war level of efficiency by 1951 .
In spite of the defects in this system , the figures on total population during the late 1930's and again in the early 1950's seem to have represented actual conditions in most districts with approximate fidelity .
But the information on the dynamics of population was often quite misleading .
The same system , with minor modifications , was developed in Ruanda-Urundi under Belgian administration .
Here again it seems that useful approximations of the size and geographical distribution of the population were obtained in this way in the late pre-war and early post-war periods .
Before considering more recent activities , we should note another important aspect of demography in Belgian Africa .
A number of strong independent agencies , established in some cases with governmental or royal support , have conducted large medical , social , educational and research operations in particular parts of the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi .
The work of Fonds Reine Elisabeth pour l'Assistance Medicale aux Indigenes Du Congo Belge ( FOREAMI ) has special interest with respect to demography .
This agency accepted responsibility for medical services to a population ranging from 638,560 persons in 1941 to 840,503 in 1956 in the Kwango District and adjacent areas east of Leopoldville .
Each year from 1941 on , its medical staff had conducted intensive field investigations to determine changes in population structure and vital rates and , as its primary objective , the incidence of major diseases .
Its findings are reported each year in its Rapport Sur l'activite Pendant annee ( Bruxelles ) .
Somewhat similar investigations have been made by medical officers in other areas .
Other independent , or partially independent agencies , have promoted investigations on topics directly or indirectly related to demography .
These studies vary widely in scope and precision .
L'Institut pour La Recherche Scientifique En Afrique Centrale ( IRSAC ) has sponsored well-designed field investigations and has cooperated closely with the government of Ruanda-Urundi in the development of its official statistics .
A massive investigation of the characteristics of in-migrants and prospective out-migrants in Ruanda-Urundi is being carried on by J. J. Maquet , former Director of the Social Science branch of IRSAC , now a professor at l'Universite Officielle Du Congo Belge et Du Ruanda-Urundi .
Some 30,000 completed schedules with 20 items ( collected by sub-chiefs in 1,100 circumscriptions ) have been tabulated .
The results are now being analyzed .
Statistics have been recognized as a matter of strategic importance in the Congo and in Ruanda-Urundi during the post-war years in connection with long-term economic and social programs .
The AIMO organizations of both countries , which maintain administrative services throughout the territories , retained immediate responsibility for the collection and publication of demographic information .
However , the statistical offices of both governments were assigned responsibility for the planning and analysis of these statistics .
A Bureau De La Demographie ( A. Romaniuk , Director ) was formed under AIMO in the Congo , to work in close rapport with the Section Statistique of the Secretariat General .
Eventually responsibility for demographic inquiries in the Congo was transferred to the demographic division of the Central Statistical Office .
The 1952 demographic inquiry in Ruanda-Urundi was directed by V. Neesen , a member of the IRSAC staff , though the inquiry was carried out under the auspices of AIMO , which has continuing responsibility for demographic statistics in this territory .
A member of the IRSAC staff ( E. Van De Walle ) was recently delegated to cooperate with AIMO in the development of demographic statistics in this territory .
The initiation of sampling censuses in Ruanda-Urundi ( 1952 ) and in the Congo ( 1955 - 57 ) were major advances .
We will deal first with the program in the Congo though this was put into operation later than the other .
The radical nature of the innovation in the Congo was not emphasized in the official announcements .
The term enquetes demographiques , previously used for the supplementary investigations carried out in connection with the administrative censuses , was used for the new investigations .
However , the differences in procedure are fundamental .
These are as follows : ( 1 ) field work procedures .
Field operations were transferred from administrative personnel primarily engaged in other tasks to specially trained teams of full-time African investigators ( three teams , each working in two provinces ) .
These teams carried out the same operations successively in different areas .
( 2 ) nature of the sample .
Sample areas in the new investigations were selected strictly by application of the principles of probability theory , so as to be representative of the total population of defined areas within calculable limits .
In short , scientific sampling was introduced in place of subjective sampling .
The populations of the various districts , or other major divisions , were stratified by type of community ( rural , urban , mixed ) and , where appropriate , by ethnic affiliation and by type of economy .
Sample units ( villages in rural areas , houses in cities ) were drawn systematically within these strata .
( 3 ) size of the sample .
Different sampling ratios were applied under different conditions .
Higher proportions were sampled in urban and mixed communities than in rural areas .
About 11 percent of the total population was covered in the new investigation , as compared with about 3 percent in the previous inquiries .
( 4 ) questions and definitions .
Uniform questions , definitions , and procedures were enforced throughout the whole country .
Data were obtained , separately , on three classes of persons : ( A ) residents , present ; ;
( B ) residents , absent ; ;
and ( C ) visitors .
In the reports , summary results are given for both the de facto ( A and C ) and de jure ( A and B ) populations ; ;
but the subsequent analysis of characteristics is reported only for the de jure population ( or , in some districts , only the de facto population ) .
These changes represent , in effect , a shift from ( 1 ) an administrative compilation of data obtained through procedures designed primarily to serve political and economic objectives to ( 2 ) a systematic sampling census of the whole African population .
The population registration system still has important functions .
It supplies local data which are useful in administration and which can be used as a basis for intensive studies in particular situations .
It provides a frame for the sampling census .
It also provides a frame within which the registration of vital events is gradually gaining force ( though one cannot expect to obtain reliable vital statistics in most parts of the Congo from this source in the near future ) .
It is still used in making current population estimates in post-census years , though the value of these estimates is open to question .
Finally , it may have certain very important , less obvious values .
Even though the registers may have an incomplete record of persons present in a particular area or include persons no longer living there , they contain precise information on ages , by date of birth , for some of the persons present ( especially children in relatively stable communities ) and supplementary information ( such as records of marital status ) for many others .
The quality of the census data can , therefore , be greatly improved by the use of the registration records in conjunction with the field inquiries .
Furthermore , it may be possible to estimate the error due to bias in method ( as distinguished from sampling error ) in each of these sources , on such subjects as fertility , mortality , and migration during a given interval by using information from two largely independent sources in conjunction .
The first sampling census in the Congo extended over a three-year period , 1955 - 57 ; ;
the results were still being processed in 1959 .
It is planned to double the number of teams and to make use of improved equipment in a second demographic inquiry in 1960 , so that the inquiry can be carried through in one year and the results published more expeditiously .
It is proposed that in the future complete sampling censuses be carried out at five-year intervals .
Reports already issued on the sampling census , 1955 - 57 , in various areas run as follows ( using only the French and omitting corresponding Flemish titles ) .
This report contains preliminary notes and 35 tables .
Other reports in identical form , but with somewhat varying content , have been issued .
These area reports will be followed , according to present plans , by a summary report , which will include a detailed statement on methods .