St Andrew, Stapleford - Nachingwea Link 

Stapleford Nachingwea Link log

The Link between St Andrew’s Church, Stapleford, Cambridgeshire and St Andrew’s Church, Nachingwea, was set up in 1981 by British missionary, Fr Bill Spencer, the vicar of Nachingwea, and his friend Revd Colin Davison, the vicar of Stapleford. Over the early years, a series of reciprocal visits to and from Nachingwea built friendship, trust and a common understanding of the many challenges faced by the Nachingwea community. The Link is now well established and active across many areas.While the Link is between Christian communities, the aim has been to help the whole population, some 40% of whom are Muslim, while others follow traditional beliefs. Fortunately, inter-faith relations in the region are good.

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Wonderful singing from St Andrew's, Nachingwea

Nachingwea is in Southern Tanzania, East Africa, in the Region of Lindi and the Diocese of Masasi, near the border with Mozambique. This is a remote and sparsely populated area, some 590 km from Dar es Salaam. The Nachingwea District population is around 200,000 in 26 rural centres ranging in size from tiny hamlets to over 16,000 people. 

Nachingwea was the centre of the ill-fated Groundnut Scheme in the 1940s, but when that project failed, it was neglected for decades. In recent years however, Nachingwea has started to develop rapidly: the hospital has been renovated, there is a teacher training college with capacity for 800 students, several secondary and primary schools, classes for children with special needs and a day care centre.


Nachingwea - Palm Sunday 2016Activities are divided between Agriculture and Technical, Church, Education, Fundraising and Medical. In each area parallel committees in both parishes decide actions and oversee results. While resources are inevitably limited, it has been possible to support a wide range of projects, usually on a shared cost basis: money from the UK being partly matched by funds raised locally in Nachingwea. Audit and reporting systems have been developed to ensure effective use of funds and to measure results.

The aim of all projects has been to improve the quality of life in Nachingwea, bearing in mind not only available resources, but the sustainability of any activity. While not all projects have been successful, both communities have learned, and continue to learn, the art of collaborative development.

The following are examples of past and current projects. 

Agricultural and Technical

  • Rainwater tank construction
  • Corn grinding equipment supply
  • Cashew crop fungicide sprayers
  • Motorbike and bicycles supplied for parish visiting
  • Solar oven supply
  • Sewing machines for clergy wives
  • Seed supply to cope with crop failure
  • Supply of pigs and enclosures to establish an ongoing source of income
  • Strategic study of sustainable agricultural approaches for Nachingwea (a major project involving a demonstrator farm to cope with climate change is in development)


  • Supply of books and vestments (ongoing project)
  • Support for clergy further education
  • Redevelopment of the Church site, including building a large hostel for visitors (ongoing project)


  • Supply of primary school textbooks and equipment
  • Support for secondary education for over 50 girls
  • Mentoring for improvement of English
  • Courses for primary teachers
  • Building a day care centre for 50 children at the Church
  • Developing and equipping a special needs class
  • Developing and equipping secondary school library
  • Supplying Science books for three secondary schools
  • Support for higher education and vocational courses (ongoing project)
  • Teacher exchanges (ongoing project)


The Link operates as a sub-committee of the PCC of St Andrew’s, Stapleford, and under its auspices, and is eligible for Gift Aid. Current turnover is around £11,000 per annum. Funds are generated by:

  • A regular giving scheme
  • Collections at Church
  • Donations from the PCC
  • Open gardens and village events
  • A Christmas Fair


  • Organisation of elective visits by UK medical students
  • Supply of operating table, refrigeration, lighting, emergency generators, autoclave spares, digital blood pressure monitors,  oxygen concentrator for neonatal unit, mosquito netting and medical and dental equipment for Nachingwea hospital
  • Schistosomiasis elimination programme to protect children
  • Training for traditional birth attendants
  • HIV/AIDS awareness training

The Future

Southern Tanzania has been known as a potential source of minerals for many years. Artisanal mining of alluvial gold deposits is well established, but industrial operations have not taken place. This is about to change, as in the last few years prospecting activities have located very substantial deposits of nickel, copper, gold and graphite. The claim areas for these materials are close to Nachingwea township, and industrial scale extraction is planned, although timing is uncertain due to the recent downturn in commodities markets. 

In parallel with these developments, the Port at Mtwara is being developed as an oil and gas terminal with associated power generation, which is enabling industrial development, including cement production. A gas pipeline to Dar is complete, water is being piped from the Makonde plateau via Masasi, a new power spur is planned to pass close to Nachingwea and new road and rail links to Dar-es-Salaam, Mozambique and Malawi are under construction.

Nachingwea is at the geographical centre of all these developments and substantial change is inevitable, involving both opportunities and potential problems for the local community. The Link is working with the mining companies involved helping to foresee and overcome problems and also maximise benefits.

Perhaps the greatest need to help secure the future of the local population is education, which will allow them to participate in the wide range of opportunities that these developments will bring. The local teacher training college will be a key element in improving education, but there is also a need for vocational training in a wide variety of disciplines.

Both sides of the Link are confident we will meet these challenges.

A downloadable leaflet on the recent work of the Link is here.

For further information or to contact the Link, please use the form here.