2018 Champion City

Lafayette, LA : 2018 Champion City

Citizen-Centered Disaster Preparedness in Lafayette

  • 127,626

  • Joel Robideaux

  • Mayor-President (consolidated government), directly elected

    Type of Government
  • 4 years

    Length of Term
  • Climate

    Issue Area

The Problem

A devastating 2016 flood left approximately one third of the parish’s land mass under water. Local government is now addressing water management and drainage concerns head on, but government can’t do it alone. Real preparedness and resiliency requires participation from the entire community.

The Idea

The City of Lafayette will maximize citizen participation in the city’s water management program, using incentives to generate individual ownership and accountability for watershed improvements.

What Joel Robideaux, Mayor of Lafayette, LA is saying:

People make decisions about their community based on things like school districts and crime rates. We want to expand that decision tree by building identities around our community’s watersheds and then motivate our citizens to participate in proactive water management.


Our Prototyping Journey

    Let's Go

  • Lafayette is testing if residents can be engaged in watershed management using a combination of behavioral incentives. This should ultimately result in a digital app that will be available to residents.

    First and foremost our idea is about helping our citizens in Lafayette, we know they need strategies to address flooding and stormwater management.

    Carlee Alm-LaBar, Director, Development and Planning Department, Lafayette Consolidated Government
  • Ideas into Action

  • What we're discovering through testing

    Lafayette realized early on that their tool will only be successful if they have the community is aware of the resource and trusts the city. As a result, they are focusing on recruiting a group local community ‘influencers’ who can kick-start community engagement, provide feedback on the idea and run their own tests with the community. These influencers are very diverse in background and outlook, including academics, flood victims, citizen activists and real estate professionals.

    Since the big floods in Lafayette in 2016, public conversation has focused on the question: “what is the government going to do about flooding?”. Through this process, the city team is trying to help flip the script and get residents thinking about what they can also do to be part of the solution – and how they can help build the city’s resilience to flooding.

  • Reflections

  • What we've learned

    Originally, the Lafayette team thought they would need to use incentives to encourage residents to participate. However, through testing they found that intrinsic motivations are likely to be stronger driver, along with social influences, such as if neighbors were also participating. They were also surprised to find that 69% of Lafayette citizens believe they have a responsibility to reduce flood risk. The team plan to leverage these positive sentiments toward individual and collective action.

    The ability to adapt to a new normal is at the heart of ensuring that our communities thrive into the future.

    Carlee Alm-LaBar, Development and Planning Department