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As of December 2018, seven development impact bonds (DIBs) have been launched across seven countries with nearly US$55million in cumulative outcome funding. DIBs fund public services through contracts where private investors provide upfront flexible funding to service providers and outcome funders repay these investors based on the outcomes achieved by people receiving services. Three DIBs specifically target health outcomes: the Humanitarian Impact Bond, the Utkrisht Impact Bond, and the Cameroon Cataract Bond. The three “health DIBs” involve US$26.5 million in upfront investment, US$38.1 million in outcome funding and aim to impact the health of at least 31,600 people.
Using publicly available information, we describe all seven DIBs, and evaluate the three “health DIBs” in more detail, comparing their stakeholders, implementation, and outcome structures. Building on a scoping review of relevant literature, we outline health DIBs in the pipeline and note that the potential of DIBs as a funding structure is hindered by the lack of publicly available information on their estimated impact and value for money. We offer three recommendations to improve evaluation and inform development of DIBs in the future: (1) publish plans and evaluations, (2) create and use consistent reporting guidelines, and (3) allocate funding to evaluate impact and value for money.