Xavier LegrainDirector, Development Portfolio Management Group (DPMG)
Fighting poverty is not a job but a passion. The most rewarding experiences of my professional life have been where I worked on projects or programs to help improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable in various parts of the world.
That 30 years in the World Bank made me realize that the biggest challenge faced by the fight against poverty is not lack of resources or good intentions but inadequate policies, weak institutions and excessive and inefficient use of existing resources. The level of economic development resources is often excessive, as injecting significant amounts in absorptive capacity-constrained environments is usually doomed to failure. And the failure rate is simply staggering.
The consequences are rather tragic: people (often children) die! I have come across much evidence of this—from Himalayan children who die of waterborne diseases for lack of access to safe water supplies to Africans and South Asians who reach such a level of vulnerability that death can strike at any moment.