Practical learning for international action.


collaborative learningadvisory services



CDA is an action research and advisory organization that bridges the gap between theory and practice to improve the effectiveness of peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian organizations, and responsible businesses working in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. By strengthening the work of our partners, CDA contributes to positive, systematic, and lasting change for people and communities.  CDA applies a unique collaborative approach to learning that prioritizes local perspectives, rigorous analysis, and evidence-based methodologies to produce practical guidance for policymakers and practitioners alike.

Almost twenty years ago CDA articulated the principle of Do No Harm and developed a framework for analyzing the unintended impacts of aid on conflict, both negative and positive.  Do No Harm has been widely endorsed and adopted in the policies and practices of aid agencies, donors, and select corporations globally, and has made aid programs and business operations more effective and accountable to local populations.

For over twenty-five years CDA’s work has been driven by the same two fundamental beliefs:

  • The perspectives and capacities of people affected by conflict are essential to constructive engagements in fragile and conflict-affected contexts.
  • Context matters. Effectiveness depends on a deep understanding of, and adaptation to, complex local dynamics.


CDA’s trusted expertise on effective engagement in complex situations is more relevant today than ever. Addressing the cascade of crises, from Syria and South Sudan, to Yemen and Myanmar, along with increased global fragility and rapidly evolving forms of political violence, requires the context-specific analysis and practical tools CDA has honed over two decades.   This is particularly true in the face of increasingly precarious donor support for international engagement.

The deadly, unintended consequences of efforts to counter violent extremism highlight the critical need for a more sophisticated understanding of local contexts and key conflict drivers, and more broadly rethinking the fundamentals of international engagements in fragile and conflict-affected states. Our work is, and always has been, grounded in a local and systemic understanding of fragile and conflict-affected contexts, based on evidence and context specific theories of change.


Our Next Chapter: Please see the June 2019 Newsletter for the latest updates on CDA’s platform for engagement.



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

Total SA


Search for Common Ground
Norwegian MFA


peace direct
International Alert
Humanity United


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