Philipp Mueller, who is Benny Peiser's deputy at GWPF, has written an excellent short paper about the recent greening of the Sahel.
The Sahara is actually shrinking, with vegetation arising on land where there was nothing but sand and rocks before. The southern border of the Sahara has been retreating since the early 1980s, making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa. There has been a spectacular regeneration of vegetation in northern Burkina Faso, which was devastated by drought and advancing deserts 20 years ago. It is now growing so much greener that families who fled to wetter coastal regions are starting to come back. There are now more trees, more grassland for livestock and a 70% increase in yields of local cereals such sorghum and millet in recent years. Vegetation has also increased significantly in the past 15 years in southern Mauritania, north-western Niger, central Chad, much of Sudan and parts of Eritrea. In Burkina Faso and Mali, production of millet rose by 55 percent and 35 percent, respectively, since 1980. Satellite photos, taken between 1982 and 2002, revealed the extensive re-greening throughout the Sahel. Aerial photographs and interviews with local people have confirmed the increase in vegetation.
I wonder what the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report had to say about the Sahel?