Across the Global South, community-based adaptation (CBA) projects are increasingly being implemented in an effort to respond effectively and sustainably to the impacts of climate change, with a particular focus on people’s livelihoods. Despite an increase in the number of CBA projects being implemented, detailed analysis and evaluation of their efficacy and the barriers faced in achieving successful outcomes is lacking. This study draws on an analysis of grey literature (i.e. project and donor reports) to explore the barriers faced in achieving effective CBA. An extensive global search of online project evaluations yielded 25 documents comprising 69 projects from which this analysis is based. This paper first presents an overview of the 69 projects and highlights any trends. Second, this paper describes the barriers to CBA according to three broad themes: socio-political, resource, and physical systems and processes. Following this is a discussion of the most prevalent barriers: cognitive and behavioural, financial, and human resources. Third, this paper discusses the key findings elucidated from this review. This includes the need for greater sharing of project reports and findings so lessons can be learned across spatial and temporal scales, and the disparity between critical academic literature on CBA and what is implemented in practice.