Accountability and Feedback Loops

CDA helps policymakers, practitioners, and organizations improve the quality, effectiveness and accountability of humanitarian, development and peacebuilding programs through better tools for joint analysis, participatory program design, feedback loops, listening, and accountability mechanisms.


CDA’s work on aid effectiveness, accountability and feedback loops began in 2005 with the launch of the Listening Program. The Listening Project facilitated 20 listening exercises around the world, listening to 6,000+ people on the receiving end of international aid between 2005-2009.

CDA’s listening methodology featured open-ended conversations with people in recipient communities about their experiences with and analysis of the cumulative impacts of international aid efforts in their communities. This unique collaborative listening and learning effort engaged 130 international and local aid agencies and over 400 staff and volunteers, culminating in the publication of the book Time to Listen: Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid (2012).

Lessons from the Listening Project and our Humanitarian Effectiveness research were integrated into policy discussions at several key aid effectiveness processes:

  • Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (Busan, November 2011)
  • UN OCHA Policy Forums (2014, 2015)
  • World Humanitarian Summit (Istanbul, May 2016)

CDA continues applied research on effective feedback loops with a keen interest in feedback utilization in program adaptation.

Our collaborative learning project Stopping as Success: Locally Led Transitions in Development focuses on successful and responsible INGO transitions in support of locally led development and peacebuilding. A core commitment in this research is to engage local civil society organizations, researchers, and evaluators in the Global South to help us examine what a responsible and successful transition looks like to different stakeholders.

CDA is a member of InterAction, ALNAP, Feedback Labs, American Evaluation Association, European Evaluation Society, Alliance for Peacebuilding and Bond Beneficiary Feedback Learning Group.

In 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

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Our People

CDA provides services to donors and international aid agencies, both at headquarters and at the country level.  Ask us how we can customize our resources and expertise to help you improve your community engagement, feedback loops and accountability practices.

Grace Boone, Program Manager, Reimagining Development

Sarah Cechvala

Sarah Cechvala, Senior Associate

Sarah Cechvala

Ruth Rhoads Allen, President and Chief Collaboration Officer