You are currently viewing Learning about people of African origin in Belgium

SurveyCTO user Bruno Schoumaker is a professor of demography at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. We recently connected about his research on French-speaking African immigrants and their descendants in Belgium and how he is using SurveyCTO in his work.

Tell us a little about yourself and your research.

I have been working on African demography for a while. Over the last 15 years, I have been involved in designing and conducting several demographic surveys in Africa, Asia, and Belgium. I have also been involved in several projects about African immigration in Europe.

With colleagues from other Belgian universities (Université de Liège and Vrije Universiteit Brussel), we are conducting a survey among French-speaking African immigrants and their descendants in Belgium. The population of African immigrants has been growing rapidly over the last 20 years in Belgium, as in other parts of the world. However, little is known about African immigration in Belgium.

“Using SurveyCTO and tablets has greatly facilitated the training of interviewers and data collection.”

The quantitative survey we are conducting is part of a project (funded by the King Baudouin Foundation) aimed at documenting various aspects of people of African origin in Belgium: migration histories, migration intentions, integration in the labour market, discrimination, political participation, citizenship, and more. The quantitative survey is conducted among a representative sample of 800 persons.

What are some of the interesting ways you’re using SurveyCTO?

Surveys are conducted face-to-face all over Belgium by 28 interviewers, using Android tablets. Our questionnaire is quite long and complex. Using SurveyCTO and tablets has greatly facilitated the training of interviewers and data collection. Interviewers regularly send their data to the server, which allows a close follow-up of the quality of their work and of the quotas. We also use SurveyCTO to collect contacts from survey respondents to recruit other respondents. Interviewers send these contacts to the SurveyCTO server, and we share them with the interviewers covering the area where these respondents live.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the project or survey design in general? Any advice for others?

As with all surveys, testing the questionnaire and the material was essential. This was our first survey using tablets, and we invested quite a lot of time in testing the electronic questionnaire. Programming the questionnaire with XLSForm was quite intuitive, and the use of the XLSForm with SurveyCTO was easy.

The Stata integration with SurveyCTO is really great to start analyzing the data before the survey is over. It saves a lot of time and trouble. You just need to be careful with the dates – some additional programming may be necessary to have them in the right format.

Chris Robert


Chris is the founder of SurveyCTO. He now serves as Director and Founder Emeritus, supporting Dobility in a variety of part-time capacities. Over the course of Dobility’s first 10 years, he held several positions, including CEO, CTO, and Head of Product.

Before founding Dobility, he was involved in a long-term project to evaluate the impacts of microfinance in South India; developed online curriculum for a program to promote the use of evidence in policy-making in Pakistan and India; and taught statistics and policy analysis at the Harvard Kennedy School. Before that, he co-founded and helped grow an internet technology consultancy and led technology efforts for the top provider of software and hardware for multi-user bulletin board systems (the online systems most prominent before the Internet).