Practical learning for international action.

Who We Are

CDA is an action research and advisory organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness and accountability of peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian efforts wherever communities experience conflict.

For more than twenty-five years CDA has worked directly with organizations, institutions, and corporations, driven by two fundamental beliefs:

  • People belong at the center. The knowledge, perspectives, and capacities of people and communities affected by conflict are essential to positive social change and to constructive engagements by international actors.
  • Context matters. Effectiveness depends on a deep understanding of, and will to act responsibly within, complex local dynamics.

Since the foundational work of Do No Harm and local capacities for peace, CDA has been a leading voice in the global movement to shift power in international decision-making closer to the people and communities most impacted. While philosophical and structural challenges have challenged the pace of change, we see this shift happening in every region and the global peace and aid systems. Yet much of the published thinking does not fully reflect who is leading, innovating, and asking the critical questions.

What We Do


Upcoming event! From Ukraine to Ethiopia – How Aid Can Support Peace or War: Dec 8th, 2022 and Jan 12th, 2023. CDA is co-leading a two-part workshop for philanthropists to grapple with the challenge of humanitarian work amidst conflict. Register here and join us to learn how CDA’s research equips local and global humanitarians in today’s most complex contexts. Can’t make it? Donate here to invest in CDA’s humanitarian research.

For our latest publications, events, and news, see our September 2022 Newsletter: Evidence to Action

Giving Tuesday is around the corner! Help make independent learning possible, your partnership is essential to this work! If you have yet to invest in systems change, make a donation today!




Collaborative Learning at CDA creates practical resources to address the complex challenges of working in and on fragility and conflict by engaging diverse practitioners in an inclusive, iterative process of research. In this way, CDA learns with people closest to complex challenges to contribute to positive change that has the potential for practical impact on real people’s lives as well as wider systems.

Advisory Partnerships at CDA accompanies peacebuilding, development, humanitarian and private sector organizations to improve the effectiveness of practice. Our services, guidance, and tools are grounded in field experience, enable organizations to learn with and from each other, are oriented towards practical application, are broadly relevant across many contexts, and are uniquely adaptable.

How We Partner

Systems change occurs when deep learning meets creative collaboration. That’s why CDA forms strategic partnerships with operational organizations, funders, policy actors, and academic institutions across the nexus of peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian response to facilitate bold action wherever communities experience conflict.

Humanity United
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Norwegian MFA
peace direct
Search for Common Ground
Norwegian MFA
Norwegian MFA
Norwegian MFA
Norwegian MFA
Norwegian MFA
Total SA
Norwegian MFA
Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Paung Sie Facility
International Alert
Global Affairs Canada
Norwegian MFA
International Rescue Committee
US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)
Norwegian MFA