Pangu Work-Distribution Practices

Community Level

Pangu Work-Distribution Practices


09 March 2012


Rural and Urban


Project Implementation


Description of Intervention

The pangu method is a case of “serendipitous” autonomous adaptation. According to this method, every paddy land owner (of land in the command area of a particular tank) is responsible for cleaning and repairing one section of the bund or canals, allocated to him. Participants are paid for their work; according to the number of sections they have been completed. The pangu method creates a sense of ownership and responsibility by involving farmers in both the planning and the implementation stages (as opposed to using contractors).

Problems to be Addressed

Drought; aridity; water shortages


‘Serendipitous’ adaptation

How It Fits into the EbA Concept

Building stakeholdership among indigenous people to adapt to the changing climate regime makes it appropriate to fit into the criteria of EbA/CCA.

Results / Outputs

The project was extremely successful in the study area because:

• the practice is a successful adaptation of a traditional method; 

• it is sustainable, functioning quite effectively for regular maintenance and for repair work; and

• The practice is supported by farmers, the Farmer Organization, the Divisional Officer, and the staff of the projects.

Indigenous Aspects
• The pangu method creates a sense of ownership and responsibility by involving farmers in both the planning and the implementation stages (as opposed to using contractors). 

• It discourages people from trying to get "a free ride" since each person is clearly accountable for a specific share of the work. This is different from the more commonly used shramadana method, in which implementation is also done collectively but people are not responsible for a particular share. With shramadana, some families send their children as representatives (who are too young to deliver the same output as adults) or shirk the participation in shramadana.


• Because the farmers do the work rather than hired contractors, this approach is cheaper and therefore more sustainable. It creates more feeling of 'ownership' and responsibility for maintenance. Furthermore, the farmers are accountable for the condition of their share (whether this is the tank bed, the bund or the canals).

• During periods of drought, when cultivation is not possible, participation in the rehabilitation works (also using the pangu method) provides people with some income or food. 

• Yields improve as the rehabilitation works improved the functioning of the physical infrastructure and regular maintenance is conducted.

• The system is not undermined by the non-participants, for - in case of rehabilitation works - participants are paid for their participation, where as non participants don't get food packages or money, and - in case of regular maintenance - non-paddy landowners are not forced anymore to participate in cleaning activities of tanks from which they cannot get any direct benefits in terms of food supply or income.

Lessons Learned


• The costs are low. 

• The method creates a sense of responsibility and ownership and accountability.

• Participants are provided with food and income. 

• The circumstances under which the projects took place and the way they were implemented proved to be favorable for participation of women. Working hours were from 8 am until 1 or 2 pm, during a season when demand for female labourers is low and families are living mainly from the day labour of the men. This timing means an extra income or extra food, plus the possibility of combining paid work with domestic work and child care.


• In all the projects which were implemented through the Department of Agrarian Services, only members of the Farmers' Organization and paddy owners were allowed to take part. It was foreseen that this restriction excluded the poorest families in the villages (families without any paddy land) and a possibility for temporary membership was created which enabled everyone to participate. The unintended but positive side-effect of this was a great increase in female participation. Women now account for 30-40 per cent of the members of the Farmer Organisation. Nonetheless, one should not overestimate this positive side-effect either, for temporary members do not have the same rights as permanent members. 

• The final distribution of money or food is vulnerable to corruption. 

• Work requiring equipment or concrete is allocated to contractors. This is also vulnerable to corruption as those in charge allocate the work to themselves or to friends (doing only part of the works they are supposed to) rather than to the contractors who can deliver the best quality. 

• There is a chance that older people are excluded from participation. It is argued that they can work less.

Upscaling / Outreach Activities

The practice can be replicated quite easily with minor adaptations. It is not yet clear how widespread the practice is elsewhere apart from this study area.

Contact Details

International Water Management Institute