November 19, 2013 | The Editors

For World Toilet Day, a tour de toilettes

Corrugated steel outhouse with the initials "V.I.P." painted in yellow on the side.
At one time or another, all of us have encountered a Very Important Toilet. Photo: Erin Hohfelder.

Our colleagues at PATH’s DefeatDD know how to have a good time in support of an important cause: clean water and sanitation. To mark World Toilet Day, they invited photographers to submit their favorite images of this humble yet essential tool for a 2014 calendar they’re calling, “Oh, the Places We Go.” You can download your own version on the DefeatDD website. But before you do, learn the thinking behind the whimsy from PATH’s Hope Randall, and check out more photos on Facebook.

In the sanitation sector, VIP stands for “ventilated improved latrine.” But as this photographer notes, when it comes to toilets, VIP takes on a whole new meaning.

Outhouse against an orange and blue sunset.Almost half of the world’s population lacks a safe, clean place to “go,” and as a result, thousands die each day from preventable diarrhea. Open defecation is also a cause of other problems, from gender-based violence to school absenteeism among girls.

DefeatDD exists to break the taboo around poo—and the loo! If we can’t talk about diarrheal disease—and if we can’t celebrate the simple solutions that save lives—we can’t defeat it. Creativity and humor can be powerful vehicles for sparking conversation; why not begin with the topic of toilets?

We hope this calendar inspires you to cause a commode-tion and raise your voices for the unsung hero of health and development.

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