Google has launched a feature that will assist people in India’s capital locate the nearest public toilet.
Launched on Thursday, the initiative is part of the government’s nationwide campaign to stop public urination and open defecation, Google India spokesman Gaurav Bhaskar told Al Jazeera on Saturday.
People searching for toilets in Delhi can type “public toilet” in Google Maps and access the 5,162 toilets in the capital as well as its surrounding areas and cities in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
The locations of the toilets are marked “swachh public toilet” on Google Maps.
“The government plans to cover more areas in India with the feature,” said Bhaskar.
“We will update the maps with these locations as and when officials provide us the information.”
The feature also allows users to provide feedback on cleanliness in the toilets.
Open defecation is a worldwide issue. According to a UNICEF report, one in 10 individuals practice open defecation.
In India, however, nearly half of its 1.2bn population has no access to toilets at home and are forced to defecate in the open.
In his first Independence Day address two years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made building of toilets in rural India one of his government’s major priorities.
In addition to sanitation issues, open defecation could result in women suffering from increase sexual violence, a recent study found.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, concluded that women who did not access to “household toilets” were twice as likely to face sexual violence than women who do have such access.
One of the researchers said the study suggested that improving infrastructure and access to toilets would provide a safer environment for women.
“Our findings provide further rationale for NGOs and the Indian government to expand sanitation programs, and raise new questions about the potentially protective role of sanitation facilities in other contexts beyond India,” the study said.
In 2014, the Indian government launched the Clean India campaign to end open defecation in five years by building millions of toilets and improving access to sanitation.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies