Advisory Services

Improve the impacts of your operations in the most challenging contexts using practical experience and tried evidence.
CDA provides services in relation to accountability and feedback loops, conflict sensitivity/Do No Harm, peacebuilding effectiveness, and responsible business, within the broad areas below. We have worked in more than 70 conflict-affected and fragile contexts, and support development, humanitarian, and peacebuilding agencies, as well as private sector companies, to improve the impacts of their operations. 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.

Analysis, Assessment, Field-Based Research

We work with partners to inform strategies and programs through field-based research and better analysis of conflict affected operational contexts. We also work with partners to apply CDA lessons, adapting them to their specific needs and interests. We conduct systemic conflict analysis, social impact and conflict risk assessments, conflict sensitivity analysis, and develop case studies.

Accompaniment and Mentoring

We engage partners and clients in medium- and long-term processes of accompaniment and coaching, to support organizational change processes that lead to sustainable changes in policy or practice within organizations and companies. Accompaniment includes the integration of CDA approaches, tools, and learning into strategy, operational, and programming cycles, as well as long term capacity development of teams and engagement with decision-makers.

Monitoring and Evaluation

CDA works with a variety of partners to develop and apply tools and processes for monitoring and evaluating conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding initiatives. CDA has also been at the forefront of developing feedback mechanisms in humanitarian assistance and development. We facilitate program quality and evaluability assessments, feedback mechanisms, the development of monitoring and evaluation frameworks, as well as the design of meta-evaluations.

Strategy and Program Development

We work with our partners to design and review programmatic and operational strategies using the full range of CDA’s tools. We facilitate processes of strategy and program design using conflict analysis as a foundation, develop guidance on community engagement and feedback processes, and develop social investment and local content strategies.

Training and Capacity Development

We tailor training and capacity development approaches to the specific needs of organizations. More specifically, we design and conduct training in conflict analysis, peacebuilding strategy and program design, systems approaches in peacebuilding, integration of conflict sensitivity and Do No Harm into planning and programming, and conflict sensitive strategies for companies.

Read more on CDA’s approach to systems thinking in peacebuilding.


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

In 2013 CDA facilitated a program quality assessment for International Alert’s Regional Economy and Conflict Program in the South Caucasus, and continues to support the program.

“In 2013, International Alert (IA) started a new phase in its long-running Economy & Conflict work in the South Caucasus.  It was a good moment to bring in a “critical friend” to scrutinize the team’s thinking and analysis.  Previous evaluations had been largely driven by an accountability agenda and rarely worked well as vehicles for genuine reflection and learning.  We sought and found an alternative…” – continue reading

Oskari Pentikainen

(former) International Alert

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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