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1 November 2011 Volume 4 Issue 1

Welcome to the CDA Newsletter!

CDA Collaborative Learning Projects is a non-profit organization committed to improving the effectiveness of international actors who provide humanitarian assistance, engage in peace practice, and are involved in supporting sustainable development. For more information on who we are and what we do, please visit our website and staff directory.

Director's Note

Welcome to the latest CDA newsletter. It is released just a few weeks before the 4th High Level Forum on Development Effectiveness in Busan. In the "New Reports and Publications" section of this newsletter you will find links to policy briefs and reports that we have released over recent months as CDA’s contribution to this important forum.

We were particularly pleased that our policy briefs were cited in the 2011 OECD DAC Fragile States Monitoring Survey. However, like many, we were disappointed by the survey findings that progress in implementing several of the Fragile States Principles appears to have stalled – not least because several principles lie at the heart of CDA’s endeavours (e.g. ‘understanding conflict’, ‘do no harm’ and ‘prioritizing preventive action’). The sub-title to the monitoring survey report asks ‘Can’t we do better?’ We - CDA, our supporters and our partners - know that governments, NGOs, companies and multilateral agencies can and must do better. The report is, therefore, a salient reminder that we need to re-double our efforts to assist these organizations to improve the effectiveness of assistance provided to communities around the globe – particularly those affected by violent conflict and other crises.

I want to take this opportunity to welcome Ben Miller to CDA as Field Associate for CEP. His extensive experience in both the NGO and private sector will help further the learning and development of CDA. We are glad to have him on board!

I'd also like to welcome four new directors of the CDA Board – Dick Harter, Sherine Jayawickrama, Ed Mulherin and David Whittlesey. They will join current directors – Roma Mayur, Larry Minear, Jonathan Moore (Chair) and Don Remick – in helping us to chart the future directions of CDA. Deborah Zawalich will continue on the Board for a short time during the transition, while Marshall Wallace will step down. However, both will remain closely engaged with the Board in their roles as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer respectively. I want to thank both of them for their commitment and contributions to the Board over the years. CDA is in an influential and respected position because of their efforts.  


What We're Learning

This section contains all of the very latest publications or learnings from CDA. Several of these reports are being released for the first time!

New Policy Brief Partnering with the Private Sector highlights lessons from communities' experiences with private sector actors. These have been gathered by CDA’s Corporate Engagement Program (CEP) in over 30 locations around the world since 2000. This policy brief highlights four key principles that have emanated from this work that will enable companies to achieve beneficial engagements with communities: accountability, respect, fairness and transparency.

New Do No Harm Guidance Note Peacebuilding and DNH discusses how to successfully integrate Do No Harm into peacebuilding programs and key issues to be aware of when doing so.

Feedback Mechanisms Report Through more than 20 Listening Exercises conducted around the world, the Listening Program has found that despite the numerous assessments and evaluations local people had participated in, they still did not feel they had been genuinely heard. This finding prompted the LP to learn more about organizational policies and practices around gathering, responding to, and utilizing recipient feedback. This research yielded our report, “Feedback Mechanisms in International Assistance Organizations.”


New Reports and Publications

Policy Briefs CDA has produced a number of Policy Briefs to highlight how findings from CDA's programs relate to several of the issues to be discussed during the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4), to be held in Busan, Korea in December 2011. 

Famine, Food Aid, and DNH In light of the recent famine affecting Somalia, DNH produced, and re-released, 2 useful papers about applying DNH in food emergency situations.

Issue Papers

CEP Site Visit Reports

  • Total E&P Uganda During this site visit CEP met with a broad range of local stakeholders in working with the company to support options for positive business practices and constructive community engagement. (Jun 2011)
  • Total E&P Myanmar Visit VI (Apr 2011)

STEPS Final Publication The Steps Toward Conflict Prevention book is complete! Marshall and Mary are quite pleased with how it turned out and express deep appreciation for all those involved in the project. We expect the book to be available by mid 2012.

What We've Done

Incorporating DNH into Colombia’s Land Restitution Policy DNH has been invited to collaborate with the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture, the National University of Colombia, and the Swiss Development Cooperation to help incorporate conflict sensitive approaches into the Ministry’s land restitution program. Nicole and Steve met with key partner agencies during a preliminary trip in August and Nicole will return to Colombia to follow up on this work in November.

LP Work on the Final Publication The LP team have partnered with Mary Anderson to write up the lessons that have come from the LP evidence into a final book. The team has been holding periodic meetings to delve into the evidence and strategize how best to present LP's findings in a way that is insightful, actionable, and true to the voices of the people we listened to. We aim to have the final draft ready for publication by Spring 2012.


  • Society for International Development and the International Development Effectiveness Alliance, Washington, D.C. The theme of this gathering was on mutual learning. Dayna presented on “Listening To and Learning With People Affected By Aid Efforts” (Oct 2011)
  • Kennedy School Center for International Development Isabella spoke to graduate students at lunch series about LP learnings. (Oct 2011)
  • Brandeis Guest Lecture Peter gave a guest lecture on conflict analysis and systems thinking for a graduate class in the Coexistence and Conflict Masters Program at Brandeis. (Oct 2011)

Guest Blog Posts by CDA

“Understanding Conflict” Field Testing Dost went to Madagascar to test the “Understanding Conflict” Tool at an Ambatovy company field site. The Tool is intended to develop and provide practical strategies for extractive companies to understand and deal with conflict and to assist them in achieving sustainable development in host communities in a collaborative manner (Aug 2011).

DNH Consultation DNH held a consultation of 29 participants to analyze 3 recent Issue Papers: “From Confidence to Competence,” “Getting it,” and “Keeping it.” Their insight helped to clarify how the use of DNH transitions from general awareness to effective organizational practice. The issue papers will be redrafted and re-released based on these discussions. Feedback from participants also prompted DNH to initiate an in-depth examination of the role and effects of Conflict Sensitive Networks. As a result, DNH will incorporate a study of several CS Networks into planned trips for upcoming Feedback Workshops. Consultation report is now available.  (Jun 2011)

On the Horizon

Upcoming RPP Feedback Workshops Send an email if you're interested in attending any of these workshops!

  • Cape Town (Nov 21-22)
  • Sri Lanka (TBD)
  • Cyprus (Oct 23-24)
  • Boston (Nov 10-11)
  • New York (TBD)
  • Stockholm (Dec)
  • Oslo (Dec)
  • Berlin (Dec)
  • London, UK (Nov 17)
  • Bern (TBD)
  • Bangkok (Dec 1-2)

Upcoming DNH Feedback workshops and Network Review DNH is preparing to embark on a series of Feedback Workshops beginning early 2012. In conjunction with these visits, we will also examine several Conflict Sensitivity Networks which have grown up in recent years. Our aim is to uncover how these networks have influenced CS knowledge and practice. Our schedule of trips includes 

  • Sri Lanka and India (Jan/Feb 2012)
  • Sierra Leone (Feb 2012)
  • Kenya (Mar 2012)
  • Cambodia (Apr/May 2012)

Colombia Dost will attend the launch event for the new Guias Colombia guidance notes on security and grievance mechanisms. She will participate as an expert in discussions to develop guidance notes on land issues. (Oct 2011)

Upcoming DNH Guidance Notes

  • "Food Security and Conflict-sensitivity in Armed Conflict: What does a DNH Approach Look Like?” (drafted)
  • Human Rights and DNH (drafted)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation and DNH
  • Negative Connectors and Positive Dividers

DNH Exposure workshop at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford, MA Nov 19, 2011

DNH and Colombian Ministry of Agriculture Following up on work to incorporate CS into Colombia's recent land restitution law. (Nov-Dec 2011)

Upcoming Policy Briefs

  • “Aid Effectiveness in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations”
  • “Aid Effectiveness and Humanitarian Action”

4th High Level Forum on Development Effectiveness, Busan Korea Dayna will attend this event and participate in the CSO pre-meeting. (Nov-Dec 2011)

“Understanding Conflict” Field Testing CEP will continue field testing the “Understanding Conflict” tool in upcoming site visits to Mexico, Sierra Leone, and a possible return trip to Madagascar. (Fall 2011)

IASC Sub-Group on Accountability to Affected Populations Dayna and Steve will continue to provide comments and inputs into the draft operational framework for accountability to affected populations.

ALNAP 27th Annual Meeting: Building Urban Resistance - Adapting Humanitarian Response to a Changing World Steve and Dayna will attend this event in Chennai, India. (Jan 2012)