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


For how CDA is Living into our values, read our June 2021 newsletter here.


Watch the recording of the Tea Time with Stopping As Success event for a rich conversation on what transformation in international development really takes. Panelists spoke about how responsible INGO transitions can support financial sustainability and local leadership of local organizations and be built on global solidarity between INGOs and local organizations, while also considering the impact of COVID-19. 



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 Services 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
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