SOMALIA is not only one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries, it is also one of the most dangerous for tax collectors. By one reckoning a fifth of tax collectors in the capital, Mogadishu, were killed in 2012-14. Armed guards now accompany the remainder on their rounds. That may be an extreme case, but most poor countries struggle to raise much revenue, and therefore to pay for basic infrastructure and services.

Such difficulties will be one of the main topics of discussion at a United Nations conference in mid-July in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, which will debate ways to finance developing countries’ most urgent needs. It is a precursor to two more big powwows this year that hope to set the agenda for development for the next 15 years. At the first, in New York in September, the UN plans to adopt global targets for development, called the “sustainable development goals”. At the second, in Paris in December, it hopes to agree a global scheme to combat climate change. Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, calls the three meetings a “once-in-a-generation opportunity for global development”.

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