Despite the adverse effects of the global downturn, donor nations have scaled up their aid spending by 0.7 percent to USD123 billion in 2009 from USD122 billion in 2008, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Excluding debt relief, the rise in total new official development assistance comes to 6.8 percent. “Aid is less than 1 percent of government spending on average in OECD countries while there is still much effort needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals. This is a vital investment with big returns for the world as a whole,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said.Donors, however, are still falling short of reaching their Gleneagles target of a USD25 billion increase by 2010. Oxfam said the value of aid in 2009 was in fact lower in 2008 due to surging prices in developing nations, AP reports. Meanwhile, Dochas, an umbrella organization representing 44 aid groups, slammed Ireland for decreasing its aid spending by 18.9 percent last year. “What today’s figures show is that some developed countries, such as Ireland, are blaming the financial crisis for their decision to cut overseas aid - but the crisis can’t be an excuse,” said Dochas director Hans Zomer, as quoted by Irish Times.The group noted that, based on OECD’s report, more than half of OECD member countries reduced their aid budgets including Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada.