cdaCDA Collaborative Learning Projects is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness of international actors who provide humanitarian assistance.

Working off the premise that experience is a good teacher, CDA facilitates collaborative learning processes to analyze the experiences of international efforts.

With this vision comes a mission to encourage communities to engage in peace practice and to support sustainable development.

CDA works with agencies and organizations to identify patterns and lessons across different contexts in order to improve effectiveness. So far its core staff has worked in over 90 countries with local and international partners.

Below is the implementation process of these CDA lessons that often produces new focus questions for improving effectiveness:

Step 1: Development of Training and Awareness Materials

The findings from a collaborative learning process are translated into a form that can be used in different briefings, exposure workshops and extended training events in order to make such findings accessible to other field practitioners.

Step 2: Building Individual Capacity

CDA training programs work not only with organizations but also with individual practitioners to develop the skills needed to implement CDA lessons into their own practices. Mentoring can play a big role in this area when it comes to knowing how to apply specific tools surrounding the framework of a specific organizational setting.

Step 3: Organizational Accompaniment

CDA works directly with partner organizations to incorporate the tools and concepts from its lessons into their routines so that the tools and concepts become a day-to-day practice. This may require training and various forms of coaching to ensure sustainability.

Step 4: Support for Improved Program Design

CDA lessons often require changes in the ways that programs are designed. Thus, it works with partner agencies to promote improvements that will result in better quality programming through design and implementation.

Step 5: Monitoring Progress and Impacts

CDA works with its partners to track the implementation of its skills, tools and concepts gained from CDA programs. This feedback ultimately tells if the application of CDA materials makes a positive difference in the effectiveness of programming.

Step 6: Implications and New Questions

When everyone comes together to share their experiences, new focus questions arise that add to the learning processes — and the cycle repeats!

Since its launch, CDA has been grounded in field experience rather than following a specific theory or model and develops the above process through which organizations learn with each other rather than relying on their experiences alone.

CDA is currently home to the Corporate Engagement Program, the Do No Harm Program and other peace practice programs. For more information, please visit the CDA website at www.cdacollaborative.org.

Chelsee Yee

Sources: CDA Collarborative, ALNAP, Relief Web
Photo: Flickr