Taking the Ethiopia-South Sudan borderlands as a case study,  argues that the traditional modalities of the aid industry are not fit for purpose in a world where transnationalism is a daily reality for communities, even—perhaps even especially—in the most geographically remote locations. The transnational networks that shape much of daily life operate outside of the control of state actors, and understanding and engaging with them therefore requires an approach that does not rely exclusively on the state system. The report argues for an increase in research and focus on these networks to better inform aid interventions, part of the need for which is being addressed through the X-Border Local Research Network.