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 has been IDS team leader for the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) research programme, co-manager for Co-manager, Impact Evaluation of DFID Nutrition and Livelihoods Programme, Bangladesh; Senior advisor, Evaluation of DFID-ESRC Joint Research Fund for Poverty Alleviation and Evaluation of DFID Young Lives Research programme; and team member of IDS/Gates Foundation Project on Agricultural Learning and Impact Assessment Strategy; Operations Research and Impact Evaluation component of Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria, and Tackling the Drivers of Child Labour Programme. These assignments have allowed him to re-engage with his earlier work on policy approaches to eradicating child undernutrition. Other assignment include Development of Analytical Framework and Tanzania Case study, Sustainability studies, ILO-IPEC; and Evaluability Framework for Impact Evaluations, ILO-IPEC. He advised ILO and UNAIDS on the implementation of external organisational evaluations and was a manager of global and country evaluations in ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC); and Technical Adviser for Second Independent Organisational Evaluation of UNAIDS. His current research interest is promoting universal development.