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.

Black Lives Matter: A Statement from CDA Team Members

At CDA Collaborative Learning (CDA), we uphold, unequivocally, that Black Lives Matter. 

American society is structured on a legacy of racist violence against Black people. This legacy persists today. Swift and urgent action is needed to come to terms with and eradicate this pervasive structural and physical violence. 

This is a moment to speak and state clearly that we condemn police violence against Black people in the United States. 

This is also a moment to listen. CDA’s mission compels us to listen to Black people in the United States, their experiences, and their demands for change

CDA was founded on the recognition that conflict is everywhere and that it is everyone’s responsibility to listen to people most affected by conflict and other crises. Although we are an organization based in the United States, our work and attention has an international focus. We recognize we have work to do to understand how we can help dismantle the systems of institutional racism that contribute to violence against Black people in the United States. We at CDA commit to practice what we value most, by listening, learning, and taking action to more explicitly incorporate anti-racist values and practices into our work. 

Signed: Nanako Tamaru, Sabina Robillard, Lillie Ris, Kathryn Nwajiaku, Brett Northfield, Ben Miller, Maureen Moriarty-Lempke, Sarah Cechvala, Grace Boone, Dost Bardouille, Ruth Rhoads Allen, Siad Darwish, Gabe Collins, Seth Owusu-Mante, Ajay Saini


For how CDA is Turning the corner to 2021, read our December newsletter here.


Read the new Stopping As Success‘ (SAS) book, What Transformation Takes: Evidence of Responsible INGO Transitions to Locally Led Development Around the World. The book compiles 19 case studies from the SAS program and takes readers on a journey to examine responsible transitions from international non-governmental organizations to locally led entities.


CDA is so pleased and proud of former Board member Alice Wairimu Nderitu’s appointment by UNSG Guterres as Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. The Board, staff, and whole CDA community wish you every success in this new and important endeavor. We also stand ready to support you in this role as so much of our work on early warning, conflict sensitivity, Do No Harm, and local leadership all impact and are impacted by mass atrocities. Warmest congratulations, Alice!


Check out CDA’s virtual learning forum “From where I stand: Unpacking ‘local’ in aid” and the latest Reflection Paper and blog “Meeting Complexity with Creativity” that analyzes key themes from the series so far!



How We Partner

Systems change occurs when deep learning meets creative collaboration. That’s why CDA works in partnership at the nexus of peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian response to facilitate bold action wherever communities experience conflict.

Collaborative Learning initiatives leverage innovative and complementary partnerships to target some of the most promising opportunities for systems change.

Supporting Partnerships draw upon 25 years of collaborative learning to work with corporations, organizations, and funding agencies to invest in positive social change.

Collaborative Partners

Humanity United
peace direct
Search for Common Ground
Norwegian MFA
Total SA
International Alert

Supporting Partners

Global Affairs Canada
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Norwegian MFA
Norwegian MFA
Norwegian MFA
World Vision UK
Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)
Norwegian MFA
Paung Sie Facility
International Rescue Committee