Elinami Mungure is breaking new ground at the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI): He coordinates the Cardiovascular Health program’s first regional campaign to advance trans fat elimination measures, in the East African Community (EAC), an intergovernmental organization of six partner states: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Mungure, who is based in Tanzania, works closely with GHAI’s multidisciplinary team to support a coalition of civil society partners in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda making the case for the elimination of industrially produced trans-fat from the food supply.

Mungure is a lawyer with more than ten years of policy and legal advocacy experience in the area of public health and natural resources. He previously worked with GHAI as a consultant on maternal and reproductive health in Tanzania, among the assignments. Mungure has also worked with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ maternal and reproductive health program, as an advocacy manager of the Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW), and as an advocacy and human rights outreach officer with HakiMadini Tanzania. He is a legal practitioner who is admitted to the Bar of Advocate of Tanzania.

What drew you working as an advocate?

Soon after my graduation in 2008, I was introduced to the power of civil society to affect positive change in society by one of my lecturers and joined a local NGO working with small-scale miners and communities around a mining area in Tanzania. That first experience opened my eyes to how unjust laws or policies, or the absence of policies, can negatively affect the livelihood of a community, and cause suffering. Since then, I have felt a responsibility to utilize my legal background, strategic planning, analysis and communication to spotlight and push for legal frameworks, policies and budgets that put principles of human rights at the core.

How does your legal background inform your approach to advocacy?

As a lawyer, I look at things from a legal perspective, but if an existing policy or law does not guarantee the wellbeing of a community or it deprives human rights from an individual, then it is important to advocate for change. As a lawyer, I can help by analyzing the legal context and proposing opportunities for change.

What accomplishment are you particularly proud of?

There are three: When I worked with mining communities in Tanzania, I co-produced a documentary on the life of women workers in the extractive industry. With DSW Tanzania, I was honored to conduct an analysis and author a report on family planning policies and budgets. During my time with Bloomberg Philanthropies, I facilitated policy dialogues on maternal and reproductive health and coordinated negotiations that led to the signing of a sustainability agreement between the Tanzania government and implementing partners.

What are you most excited about in your new role with GHAI?

Health is a form of human capital that is fundamental for development, and I am excited to support the creation of trans fat measures that save and improve lives in East Africa. Working through partners at countries level is exciting, since local leadership is critical to sustainable progress, I also enjoy building capacity of local partners to advocate for sustainable change.

What is your message to food and health advocates in Africa and around the world?

The work that advocates are doing in Africa and globally is fundamental; advocates should keep on doing what they do best, because through their work they are saving lives.

Learn more about the work of GHAI’s Cardiovascular Health program to catalyze food and health policies that improve heart health and save lives.

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