The villagers had good knowledge of the land classification as well as the drainage patterns of the area. They also had a clear idea about the problems of the traditional water harvesting systems. The most effective method to ensure that the entire process of planning was participatory was the initiation of participatory resource mapping exercises. A kalajatha (cultural troupe) preceded the mapping exercises and initiated dialogue with the villagers. BGVS volunteers went from plot to plot and mapped the resources of the area in collaboration with the villagers. During this process they gained an understanding of drainage patterns, patterns of production and soil conservation. This was to form the basis of further planning.
Chhattisgarh was earlier known for its traditional water harvesting ponds and check-dams, which were rebuilt by the people every year. The semi-permanent structures were traditionally at regular intervals on the ridge-line where the speed of the water could be broken and slowed down. The conservation of water took place through stop-dams and check-dams and the foothills of the ridge housed traditional ponds and tanks made by the villagers. However, according to the villagers these check dams would get destroyed because of the speed at which the water flowed down the ridge-lines. Under the watershed programme, this system was modified slightly by creating permanent harvesting structures: ponds, checkdams, and stop-dams, based on the drainage maps prepared along with the villagers.
In this context, the first year saw the construction of boulder checks on the ridge. The traditional structures were improved slightly to make them more durable in two ways. First, the boulder checks were made of stone and mud instead of just mud; second, they were now made on the intersection of two drainage points in addition to the higher slopes, in order that enough moisture would get accumulated in the soil. Contour trenches were also dug to collect excess water and stop soil erosion.
Thereafter the work moved to the transition zone or the zone between the highland and the bahra land. There already existed two old ponds in this zone. These were repaired and stop-dams and earthen dams were built to recharge the groundwater level. These structures were spread over 32–35 hectares and were linked with the natural nala (drain) that was used by the villagers to finally drain the excess water from the rice field. This work was completed by the second year and the work on the agricultural fields started by the middle of this period. Transition bunds and checks linked the existing ponds to each other. New structures were also made to link the lowlands with the midlands and highlands. This meant that the excess water could be drained into the chawar and the darh lands. The points of transition between the lowlands and midlands were identified along with village elders, based on their years of experience.