Richard Longhurst trained as an agricultural economist at London and Cornell Universities. This started a long standing interest in food policy, nutrition and child health, and after two years working at the World Bank on nutrition policy, he completed a doctorate in development economics at Sussex University in 1980 with field work in northern Nigeria, studying the dynamics of the family farm operation, household allocation of labour and food and child undernutrition.
Thereafter he worked for FAO and the Ford Foundation and as a freelance consultant on agriculture, rural development, child health and humanitarian programmes until the mid-1990s. He then became a manager and implementer of evaluations at the Commonwealth Secretariat and International Labour Office.
Evaluation work took him into a broader range of issues including aid policy, UN reform, gender, child labour, mainstreaming human rights and performance management, leaving him with a realistic approach to the results based agenda. He has also worked as a consultant for various international organisations, being DFID, IFAD, IMO, UNAIDS, UNCTAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO.
More by accident than design, he has divided appointments between international organisations and universities including the Centre for International Child Health at London University and two periods at IDS where he now works as a Research Associate. These experiences have enabled him to integrate agency experience and policy with research in several areas.
At IDS he was a core team member of the IDS/Gates Foundation programme, Agricultural Learning and Impacts Network (ALINe), helping to further his interests in evaluation methodology, and a member of the ‘Seasonality Revisited’ research team. He is now IDS team leader of the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) research programme, co-manager of the Impact Evaluation of DFID Programme to Accelerate Improved Nutrition for the Extreme Poor in Bangladesh (ENLIB) and a management team member of Operational Research and Impact Evaluation for Northern Nigeria (ORIE). These opportunities have allowed him to re-engage with his earlier work on policy approaches to eradication of child under nutrition. He advised ILO and UNAIDS on the implementation of external organisations evaluations, and was a manager of global and country evaluations in ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).