Everybody wants results. Governments, development partners, civil society and the general public all demand development programs that deliver real and lasting results. One instrument in development financing that helps keeps this focus on results is Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs), which were the focus of a side meeting at the Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) 2020.
DLIs constitute a development financing modality that releases funds from the funding agency to the government as and when an agreed upon set of tangible and verifiable results—rather than inputs (expenditures)—is achieved by countries implementing a development program. DLIs have effectively incentivized governments to achieve critical program milestones and improve program performance since they can be linked not only to outcome and outputs, but also to key actions on processes that constrain the realization of development objectives. At the same time, as a new modality, it needs to be understood better and some of the implementation lessons and challenges could inform future design of DLIs.
The World Bank, World Health Organization, Global Fund, Gavi, and Global Financing Facility jointly organized this deep dive on DLIs in Bangkok as a side meeting of PMAC 2020, an annual international conference on policy-related health issues. Government officials, development partners and experts from around the world participated in sessions that sought to link development assistance to health systems strengthening for universal health care through DLIs. Underscoring their importance, panelist Jane Pepperall of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) called Disbursement Linked Indicators the “litmus test for the broader development agenda”.