One-On-One With Munya Mandipaza, INERELA+ Acting Executive Director

We catch up with Munya Mandipaza to hear her experiences and thoughts on leading a civil society organization.

Question: The Global pandemic upset life in general, it had its pros and cons, how did INERELA+ fare then?

Answer: Life has been very daunting, fast, and uncertain. The pandemic brought exceptional challenges to the delivery of services, especially to key populations. Working in countries already affected by conflicts and natural disasters become even more challenging. In many ways the COVID- 19 crisis has amplified the inequality and inequity in healthcare.

INERELA+ together with its Country Networks and partners have been at the forefront of the pandemic response. INERELA+ faith leaders continued to exercise considerable influence in their communities.

Collaboration with trusted community members such as educational authorities, traditional leaders, healthcare workers, and public officials has been essential for efficient outreach to their communities.

INERELA+ also leveraged their longstanding partnerships and collaborations with like-minded organisations and national health authorities to share information about COVID-19, to fill the gaps in existing services as efficiently as possible, and to activate preparedness activities across different countries.

We also managed to mobilise resources to mitigate the impact of Covid – 19. Through these resources, we have managed to review and update the second edition of the INERELA+ SAVE toolkit against the Fast Track Strategy.

We invested in organizational resilience by setting up a collaboration hub “SUNSHINE PATH HUB” at INERELA+ Secretariat which will give INERELA+ Country Networks and Partners a space to connect, share lessons, failures, successes, expertise, knowledge, and learn together.

We had to rely on digital platforms for the implementation of certain components of our work and to work remotely as a team . We were fortunate that most of our funding partners have been very understanding and accommodating of the many changes we have had to make to accommodate these developments

Question: As an Acting Executive Director what have been the major challenges you have faced in regard to the limitations and restrictions faced by INERELA+ partners and subsequently the INERELA+ Country Networks?

Answer: The most significant challenge I have faced has been ensuring that the systems and operations of the organisation were agile enough for the INERELA+ team to adapt swiftly to effectively support INERELA+ Country Networks during a time of heightened uncertainty.

In order to inform our efforts to support INERELA+ Country Networks during the crisis, we conducted a needs assessment which showed that, while Country Networks were adapting quickly, they required support to address the secondary challenges created by the crisis, including human rights violations, and the disproportionate targeting of marginalised groups during the enforcement of lockdown regulations.

Country Networks indicated that they required support to adapt their operations to work remotely; to prepare their communities for the lockdowns; and to advocate for uninterrupted access to services and commodities during the lockdowns.

Question: With a different outlook, how have you continued to the present day and what are your future plans?

Answer: I am very excited about INERELA’s future contribution to ensuring the health and rights of people in southern and east Africa over the next few years. There is a lot of work to be done to address inequity, stigma, and discrimination and I believe that INERELA+ has an important role to play in addressing all these issues


Question: What do you envisage to achieve in the next two years?

Answer: I envision leading a responsive organisation with a team of passionate people who can excel in championing a world free of HIV driven by a comprehensive faith-based response. As an individual, I will have the opportunity to make an impact on the health and well-being of some of the most vulnerable members of the communities that we work with. I am looking forward to building on the strengths of this already impressive organization and advancing that work through our Country Networks.


Question: Partners make an organisation, what is your attraction to getting more interested stakeholders?

Answer: Engaging with partners is an essential part of my job and I consider them to be a part that will determine the success – or failure – of whatever I will try to achieve: whether it is winning a proposal, implementing a new way of doing things, or delivering a project.


Question: Last but not least, who is Munya Mandipaza?

Answer: Munya Mandipaza is a highly skilled and dynamic professional with profound expertise in leadership, policy design, strategy, program, and evaluation. She has a strong history of orchestrating operational excellence, crisis management, systems strengthening, resource mobilisation, and partnerships. Munya leads INERELA+ across the globe to deliver on the mission to empower Religious Leaders Living with or personally affected by HIV AIDS to be change agents in their communities which contributes to eliminating stigma and discrimination thereby eradicating HIV. As an accomplished executive and well-networked leader, she has devoted 18 years of her career to cumulatively working with alliances, networks, and leading Christian international development NGOs globally in partnership with major international donors where she has held a number of senior management positions. She has a sterling reputation as a non-profit executive who creates and accomplishes relevant strategic goals. Munya has passionately and professionally involved herself in empowering marginalised groups and countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable and people-centered development having served in different capacities on a number of national, regional and international programs in the Non-Profit sector. Gender equality, poverty eradication, youth empowerment, women’s leadership, and social justice particularly the reduction of stigma, discrimination, and health disparities have been core themes running throughout her career.

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