You might not appreciate the importance of toilets... until you try and imagine life without them. That's what we ask people to do on World Toilet Day. Though people often laugh when they discover there is a day dedicated to toilets, it offers us a unique opportunity to highlight the terrible conditions 2.5 billion people around the world have to endure because they lack one. We'll even use toilet humour to get our point across. For World Toilet Day 2012 we asked you to let your MP know about the 1 in 3 women worldwide who risk shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. Why are toilets important? Put simply, when human waste gets into the water supply or contaminates food, there is a massively increased risk of illness. In fact, lack of proper toilets to deal safely with human waste is a killer: diarrhoea still kills more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. This is why the toilet – or sanitation as it's sometimes called – is a real lifesaver. What is WaterAid doing? With the help of local people and partners, every year we build thousands of toilets – always making sure we install the right kind of toilets for the local area. We use local materials, low-cost solutions, and are always exploring new ways to deal with human waste. We also campaign tirelessly to demand that governments target their development efforts and spending on sanitation. It might not be sexy or nice to talk about, but we know that toilets save lives. Even more than that, spending on sanitation has huge economic benefits – for every dollar invested in sanitation, there’s around an eight dollar return. Health is improved, fewer days are lost to sickness, and girls stay on at school longer. History of World Toilet Day In 2001, the World Toilet Organisation declared 19 November World Toilet Day. They created the day to raise global awareness of the struggle faced by the 2.5 billion people living without access to sanitation. They also wanted to use the day to explore some of the health, emotional and psychological consequences people endure as a result of not having a proper, clean toilet. Today it is marked and celebrated around the globe, with scores of events being hosted by various water and sanitation organisations and advocates, including WaterAid. Did you know? World Toilet Day occurs on the same day as International Men's Day. Cue lots of jokes about men arranging this coincidence as the perfect excuse to sit on the loo all day... For more information and background, visit the World Toilet Organisation site.