Dr Adrian Flint and I here make the case for a development paradigm shaped and determined by the people directly affected by aid and assistance programmes. It is a call for aid programming and policy that goes beyond the limitations of participation and towards a paradigm that puts those who need and want help in the driver’s seat of how and when they get it.

We call it “beneficiary-led aid”. This working paper is the first step in a joint research initiative between the University of Bristol and MzN International. We explore some foundations, advantages and challenges to beneficiary-led aid, forming the foundations for developing this concept further and implementing trial programmes.