Over 80 per cent of respondents said they were now eating less expensive food, while three quarters reported eating reducing the number of meals and portion sizes.
The World Food programme report said that these are the areas where most Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases have been reported since the start of the outbreak, this was supported by the reduced coping strategy index.
The reduced coping strategy index (rCSI) is a proxy indicator of household food security. A high rCSI means that households are using more severe coping strategies more frequently to cope with shortages of food.
September data showed the highest rCSI was the east, part of the country most exposed to EVD and its impacts
“In the eastern districts of Kailahun and Kenema, the mean rCSI is 22 and is statistically higher than the national average of 18,” the WFP report said.
According to the 2010 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis, households in Kailahun and Kenema were less likely to be food insecure than in other parts of Sierra Leone.
“Low casual wage prices in the east appear to be driving down people’s food purchasing power. This may be one reason why food coping levels are higher in that part of the country,” the report noted.
“As the main annual harvest starts, staple food prices in the east are not showing serious anomalies compared to other regions of the country. Price trends will continue to be monitored in subsequent months.”
WFP used remote data collection method through mobile phones due to restrictions on staff movement in order to collect basic food security food data.
(READ MORE: Ebola threatens food security in West Africa – FAO)
The data collected by SMS from 850 randomly selected and anonymous mobile phone subscribers.
EVD outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is classified as a level three emergency, the highest in the UN system.
Results also show that food markets, rather than own production, are the main source of food for respondents.
“This reflects overall dependency on markets – especially in the pre-harvest harvest period when the survey was conducted. Income and market trends are therefore important indicators to monitor in the future,” said the report.