• Marangu said when issues concerning people with disabilities are mentioned in discussions of food systems, it is usually with reference to their vulnerability.
• Marangu said the challenges for PWDs include lack of farm inputs, technical skills, information and capacity-monetary and non-monetary.
Persons with disabilities continue to be marginalised in the uptake of technology to improve food systems, a new study has shown.
The study was shared during the international conference on earth observation technologies at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development in Nairobi.
The conference, which took place from September 6 to 8 was under the theme 'Earth observation services for resilient social systems.'
Communications and public policy analyst Nancy Marangu told the conference that policy gaps in the need for inclusive innovations continue to widen the divide on systemic farming practices.
She said when issues concerning people with disabilities are mentioned in discussions of food systems, it is usually with reference to their vulnerability.
Marangu said persons with disability should be seen as agents capable of contributing to sustainable food systems.
“We all have to see it differently and realise that if we all build their capacity, innovate inclusively and provide them with technical support, our farmers with disabilities are equally capable and have an active role-play on gender-responsive agriculture systems,” she said.
The Kenya National Survey for Persons with Disabilities estimates that at least 10 per cent of Kenya’s population comprises people with disabilities, with more than 66 per cent of them living in rural areas.
More than 50 per cent of people with disabilities in Kenya are women, 35 per cent are youth and another 40 per cent are soon to be youth in the age bracket of 0-14 years, it says.
Marangu said SDGs can be attainable through rethink, re-engineer and realise inclusive adoption and implementation of gender-responsive agriculture systems anchored on earth observation technologies.
The European Science Hub defines earth observation as gathering information about the earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems via remote sensing technologies that involve satellites carrying imaging devices.
Marangu said persons with disability grapple with unsustainable and non-inclusive food systems besides poverty impacts, which are more acute to them than the general population.
She said the challenges for PWDs include lack of farm input, technical skills, information and capacity-monetary and non-monetary.
The study was meant to ascertain the extent to which persons with disabilities uptake earth observation technologies to enhance inclusive food systems in Kenya and establish the type of earth observation technologies used by persons with disabilities for sustainable food systems in Kenya.
It was also meant to establish existing barriers that impede people with disabilities from using earth observation technologies in Kenya.
Marangu said the majority of people with disabilities in rural areas depend on agriculture as their main source of livelihood.
“However, persons with disabilities lack technical infrastructural/ systems to advance precision agriculture, systems that enhance the development of yield estimation methods and models that promote efficient planning and monitoring of land productivity,” she said.
Marangu said there is a deficiency of information and the capacity/expertise on how to incorporate sustainable systems along the agricultural value chain.
The study synthesised literature to ascertain the extent to which earth observation technologies can be used by persons with disabilities to propel inclusive food systems.
This included literature on earth observation technologies and assistive farming technologies.
During the conference, scientists discussed agriculture and food distribution systems, early warning and disaster preparedness and geo-innovations in health and land administration.
Other issues discussed included management systems, natural ecosystems and biodiversity conservation, smart and green cities, water resources and the blue economy.