Practical learning for international action.




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.

CDA Launches a New Blog Series

CDA is thus pleased to launch the new forum, “From where I stand: Unpacking ‘local’ in aid”. Each week, we will share an original blog by practitioners and those working alongside them for change from the community to systems levels. We invite you to read, engage, provide feedback, or submit your own blog as part of this series.

If you are interested in contributing to our “From where I stand” series please contact Sarah Cechvala at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you and include your perspective.



CDA launches a new virtual learning forum “From where I stand: Unpacking ‘local’ in aid“. Recent blogs include:

Read a recent blog by CDA’s Grace Boone and Peace Direct’s Megan Renoir:  4 Ways to Transition Responsibly During a Global Pandemic 

Read more about how CDA is staying connected in the time of COVID-19.

Practical learning across the triple-nexus: Read CDA’s March Newsletter for insights into our work that sits at the nexus of the peacebuilding, humanitarian, and development arenas.


CDA @ 25


In 2019, CDA marked two significant and noteworthy milestones: the 20-year anniversary of the paradigm-shifting “Do No Harm” framework and the 25th year as an action research and advisory organization dedicated to positive, systemic change for people experiencing conflict and fragility. To celebrate these milestones, we launched the CDA 20/25 Campaign to say thank you to the CDA network, listen to and share stories of impact, and look to the big questions on the horizon.

We enjoyed celebrating the CDA 20/25 milestones with many of you, including with our friends at Local Capacities for Peace International in Nairobi, a partner on this journey from our first collaborative learning project.  We look forward to ongoing collaboration, storytelling, and exciting unknowns with you in the years ahead.



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