Advisory Partnerships

Putting evidence into action - equipping local and international organizations, donors, and companies to work effectively and accountably amidst conflict.

CDA’s team accompanies diverse actors to integrate lessons and frameworks from CDA research into both what they do and how they do it. CDA has led advisory partnerships in more than 70 conflict-affected and fragile contexts and we know effective operations depend on a deep understanding of, and will to act responsibly within, complex local dynamics. Our engagements are grounded in this field experience, enable actors to learn with and from each other, are oriented towards practical application from project to policy levels.

Advisory Partnerships Theory of Change

CDA’s Approach to Advisory Partnerships

Institutional change – actually putting evidence into practice – takes will, trust, and expertise. Partners and clients engage CDA to support medium- and long-term processes of guided learning, accompaniment, and coaching that lead to sustainable changes in policy or practice within their organizations and companies. Specifically, we draw on current and previous collaborative learning projects and other global learning and help groups apply and operationalize what is most relevant to meet their specific needs and goals. Accompaniment includes the integration of CDA approaches, tools, and learning into strategy, operational, and programming cycles, as well as tailored capacity development approaches.

Recent Illustrative Advisory Partnerships


All the evidence we need is a call to action for the IFRC based on long-term, global collaborations to strengthen their community engagement and accountability practice in conflict and fragile contexts.


It takes two to tango aims to raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges associated with the business and peacebuilding nexus.


CRS engaged CDA in a research initiative to help us think through and sharpen our organizational approach to Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE), an approach to addressing violent conflict that has increasingly supplanted more reflective approaches to peacebuilding in the public donor-funded programming landscape.

We found CDA to be excellent learning partners in this process. As lead researcher, Anita Ernstorfer brought considerable depth and breadth of understanding to this topic, which allowed us off to a get a running start on the research and to maintain a clear focus within a P/CVE field where claims of effectiveness remain largely unsupported by evidence. Her approach was equally rigorous, methodologically sound and flexible enough to include a variety of lines of inquiry. She and CDA were also highly respectful and affirming of our stated desire to explore how to approach P/CVE programming in a way that aligned with our organizational values and principles.

Based on the report and recommendations CDA produced, we are now able to situate ourselves in the P/CVE landscape from a well-informed, evidence-based, principled perspective. We are using the final product to guide our decision-making about related programming opportunities.

Aaron Chassy

Technical Director for the Equity, Inclusion and Peacebuilding (EQUIP) team and Nell Bolton, Senior Technical Advisor for Justice & Peacebuilding at Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

Joseph N. NgugiIn December 2017, CDA undertook an operational case for Kenya Red Cross Society. This case study captured the organization’s experience mainstreaming their accountability framework across its programs and operations. CDA used a participatory methodology to gather and analyze the perspectives of staff, volunteers, and community members.

“Your years of research, your depth of understanding [of] the accountability framework in humanitarian assistance and collaborative learning coupled with the ability to present the subject in such an interesting way produced one of the most memorable learning group sessions for me so far. Your enthusiasm was contagious and I plan to use your moderation [approach] in my next engagement. Thank you again for your contribution and adept community engagement skills.”

Joseph N. Ngugi

Mainstreaming Disability in Emergency Operations Project Officer, Kenya Red Cross Society -Turkana

Malin Brenk“Ahead of Kvinna till Kvinna’s possible expansion to Afghanistan, CDA played a crucial role supporting the programme design. We invited CDA to work with our staff and key women’s rights organisations from Afghanistan. CDA guided us through developing a conflict systems and divider and connector analysis, formulating theories of change, and reviewing program design from a conflict sensitivity perspective. We hope to continue cooperating with CDA in refining our approach to conflict-sensitivity and to jointly develop tools for integrating gender- and conflict sensitivity.”

Malin Brenk

Regional Manager Africa , Kvinna till Kvinna

Richelle Todd-Yamoah“The ongoing collaboration between AFSC and CDA for the past three years has been invaluable. Through various learning formats like systems mapping and Reflecting on Peace Practice (RPP) training, problem analysis theory and customized coaching, CDA has enhanced our ability to reflect on the work we do for peace and social justice around the world in new ways.  Each year, our relationship with CDA improves and becomes more defined.  We are confident that the skills and training we continue to receive are contributing to a sustained internal wheelhouse of knowledge and expertise that offers technical and contextual support towards effective and efficient peace programming.”

Richelle Todd-Yamoah

Director of Program Support , American Friends Service Committee

A team from CDA performed an assessment of operations of a South American affiliate of a multi-national oil company.  CDA assessed the company’s social impacts and conflict risks, and developed recommendations for community engagement and social investment practices, and for managing compensation in a context in which land rights are poorly defined.

“The CDA team acted as critics, but constructively.  The exercise was very meaningful. ..They saw [the social issues we were facing] very clearly from the beginning, and their report was very good.  ..We are trying to implement some [of CDA’s recommendations], and the results have been very, very good.  …For me personally, it was excellent. …[CDA’s] book is one thing, but an in-person exchange is best.”

CDA Colleague

Director of Community Relations, South American Affiliate of a Multi-National Oil Company

“CDA’s willingness to walk alongside an organisation, brings a unique insider-outsider perspective. This has been of immense value to World Vision UK supported Beneficiary Feedback Mechanism Pilots and Accountability Learning Initiatives. CDA does not attempt to simplify field operations or institutional realities. Rather, it takes time to gain actual field experience and explores a range of perspectives from communities, partners and different levels of staff. This approach to collaborative learning has led to real-time strengthening of practice. The focus on ‘how’ change can be brought about, is in contrast to more extractive research techniques that often result in aspirational recommendations on what should be done, and for the practitioner – a sinking feeling of ‘easier said than done.”

Carla Benham

Accountability Advisor, World Vision UK

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