Regional Director's corner
Sanjay Wijesekera, Regional Director, South Asia
Sanjay Wijesekera is in charge of leadership, oversight and guidance to the eight UNICEF country programmes: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He also represents UNICEF with governments, donors, the private sector and civil society in the region.
Before taking up this role, Mr. Wijesekera was Director of Programme Group at UNICEF Headquarters in New York. Prior to that, he was UNICEF Representative in South Africa and Chief of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Section and Associate Director of Programmes in New York.
Before joining UNICEF, from 2005 to 2011, Mr. Wijesekera worked at the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), where he was responsible for managing overall policy and global programmes related to achieving the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goals. He also worked for DFID in Ghana as an infrastructure adviser, where he helped coordinate a joint assistance strategy for the donor community and was the lead donor representative for the water sector.
Between 2003 and 2005, Mr. Wijesekera worked for UNICEF as a water and sanitation adviser in Nigeria. From 2000 to 2002, he worked for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry in South Africa, supporting newly formed local governments to take on the responsibility for delivering water and sanitation services, and helping to regulate public and private sector service providers. He also worked on emergency programmes in Rwanda for Oxfam in 1994 and for UNICEF, supporting post-tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka in 2005.
Mr. Wijesekera is a national of Sri Lanka. He is a Chartered civil engineer and holds a Master’s degree in Water and Environmental Management from the University of Loughborough, UK.
Notes from the field
Sanjay Wijesekera met Nematullah, a 2.5-year-old boy, recovering from severe acute malnutrition, treated with ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) and by a nutrition counselor at a UNICEF-supported health facility in Badghis Province, Afghanistan.
Sanjay Wijesekera visited a solar water system in Badghis Province, Afghanistan, which brings clean, safe water directly to the heart of communities.
Sanjay Wijesekera visited a family in Gujarat to understand the empowering effect of the family care scheme and discussed UNICEF's continued support to the Government of India in creating change for children.
Sanjay Wijesekera had enriching conversations with young people from YuWaah India.
Sanjay Wijesekera joined the G20 Empower event in Gandhinagar to discuss how lasting solutions to climate change start with putting women at the heart of decision-making.