Urban planning, beautification and extension project of the city of Dame Marie

Workshop in Dame Marie, Haiti, UN-Habitat
Workshop in Dame Marie, Haiti, UN-Habitat


In a context of rapid growth and limited urban planning and management capacities, Haitian cities have difficulties to cope with this uncontrolled urbanisation dynamic. Urban growth raises considerable challenges for development, such as urban sprawl, the infrastructure deficit and mobility issues. It is becoming urgent to provide municipal administrations with urban planning tools capable of meeting the current challenges of Haitian cities and ensuring their sustainable urban development.

The objectives of the project are to overcome the challenges of connectivity, infrastructure, environmental risks, water and public space management, extension zone planning and restructuring of the existing urban fabric. A strategic vision and a new urban structure to improve sustainable urban development will be proposed.

Context and background

Dame Marie, Haiti, UN-Habitat
Dame Marie, Haiti, UN-Habitat

Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti, is a state located on the island of Hispaniola, in the Caribbean Sea. The island, hit in the summer of 2004 by hurricane Jeanne, in January 2010 by the second most destructive earthquake in human history, and in October 2016 by hurricane Matthew, lives in a state of humanitarian emergency. On August 14th 2021 the country was again hit by a massive earthquake. Haiti has about ten million inhabitants. Despite a very high density (360 hab./km²), the population distribution is highly heterogeneous: most Haitians live in cities, coastal plains and valleys. The project of Development, Beautification and Extension (PAEE) for four cities in Haiti, was developed to meet the needs of the inhabitants in compliance with the principles of sustainable urban development while improving the environment and the living environment of the population.
The plan was developed to contribute to the recovery of the city after Hurricane Matthew, to prevent future disasters, and to promote sustainable urban development through strengthening local governments.

Dame Marie is part of the district of Anse d'Hainault and is located 49 km from the town of Jérémie, capital of the department of Grande Anse. It is located 114 metres above sea level and covers an area of 102.16 km2. The commune of Dame Marie has an estimated total population of 38,747 inhabitants (IHSI, 2015). With an area of 102.16 km2, the average population density is 379 inhabitants/km2. The population is predominantly rural, representing 70.16% of the total population.

Dame Marie city is a small seaside settlement founded in the 18th century. The population of the town, according to the 2015 census is 11,154 inhabitants. The city is relatively well developed: agriculture and fishing are the economic mainstays, the associated activities are concentrated in the centre of the city.

Dame Marie, Haiti, UN-Habitat
Dame Marie, Haiti, UN-Habitat
Dame Marie, Haiti, UN-Habitat
Dame Marie, Haiti, UN-Habitat

Plan and process

The development of the plan followed a participatory process approach, which was carried out in different stages:

  • A launch session to introduce the approach as a whole, its objectives and the steps proposed to the Mayor and the municipal team.
  • A technical analysis and diagnosis workshop to define the urban structure of the city (districts, roads, facilities and structuring public spaces).
  • A second workshop for the constitution of a restricted reference group which worked on the definition of the vision and the strategic orientations for the city. 
  • A third technical workshop to define priorities, which allowed for a more precise reflection on the projects to be implemented in order to achieve the objectives set by the strategic orientations. 
  • A municipal plenary session should have been organised following the third workshop with the aim of explaining the complete process and presenting all the work carried out. However, due to the political context, the session was replaced by several meetings during the months of December and January 2019.

Resource for the development of Our City Plans

The elaboration of this plan was based on a participatory approach, which encountered some difficulties due to the political situation. For this very reason, it was a valuable experience for the development of Our City Plans: the methodology aims to be participatory but also flexible, which means that it needs to adapt to different social, political, economical and environmental contexts. This project experience provides information regarding a context in which the political framework can interfere with the carrying out of participatory activities and it is necessary to find different adaptations so the participatory component can still play a relevant role in the planning process. 


The workshops were divided into different phases. It presented the context of the Urbayiti project, methodology and different projects experiences in other cities to illustrate what types of projects and outputs could be developed in each place. Following this, the participants established the list of desired projects, the potential timeline, the responsibility for implementation and the possible source of funds in order to implement them.

The results of the participatory activities were, therefore, the correction and validation of the plan, a list of projects and an action plan to implement them.

Dame Marie
Project Duration
Team Members Involved
Project/Plan Stage
Finalised (not approved due to political situation - in 2021 an earthquake happened in the city)
Organisations In Charge
Secrétariat technique du Comité interministériel de l’aménagement du territoire (CIAT), MICT, etc.
Expertise France URBAYITI